Uncharted Review

One of the big fights in Uncharted takes place at a Papa John’s in Barcelona. We know this because Mark Wahlberg announces he’s in a Papa John’s with more emotion than 90% of his other line deliveries. I’m sorry to say that a bored looking Wahlberg, a Tom Holland without quality Spidey material, and a screenplay borrowing heavily from superior franchises are not the better ingredients to make this a better slice of entertainment.

Directed by Ruben Fleischer (Venom), Uncharted raids the Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, and National Treasure pics as did the PlayStation games it is based on. I won’t pretend to be an expert on its source material as I’ve never played it. I read that Holland and Wahlberg wouldn’t be the casting choices of its fanbase majority. All I can say is that their chemistry is rather nonexistent. The film only bails itself out a little in the third act with some impressive set pieces.

Nathan Drake (Holland) works nights bartending in New York City while pickpocketing his unsuspecting imbibers. 15 years prior (as we witness in the prologue), he and his brother Sam attempted to steal a map purportedly leading to Magellan’s 16th century gold. Sam gets kicked out of the orphanage they inhabit with a vow to Nathan to return. A decade and a half later, that hasn’t occurred but little bro does get an occasional postcard. Enter Sully (Wahlberg), a treasure seeker who enlists Nathan’s assistance when he reveals Sam is missing. The two team up to find fortune and family and are soon globetrotting along with Chloe (Sophie Ali), Sully’s distrustful colleague and potential love interest to Nathan.

The trio aren’t the only ones looking for Magellan’s ships filled with shiny bars. There’s Moncada (Antonio Banderas), whose lineage stems from the famed explorer’s funders. He believes the gold is his birthright and he’s got ruthless henchwoman Braddock (Tati Gabrielle) helping.

The treasure seeking brings us to Barcelona where key clues are buried beneath that aforementioned pizza franchise and its mediocre at best pizza with decent enough breadsticks if you get a double order of cheese sauce (that’s my P.J. review). It’s not until we reach the Philippines towards the final act that Uncharted‘s pulse is detected. The action sequences in that region and on the plane getting there (a definite standout) are well choreographed and offer more excitement than anything in the first two-thirds.

There’s not really a performance that stands out, but I will reiterate that Wahlberg doesn’t seem much into the mission or movie. You have to wade through a lot of dusty material to find scenes worth keeping in Uncharted. In Papa John’s terms, there’s not enough cheese sauce to go around.

** (out of four)

March 11-13 Box Office Predictions

With no new wide releases this weekend (or the next one), The Batman should easily maintain its perch atop the charts. The question is how much it drops in the sophomore frame.

I’m projecting a dip in the low to mid 50s range which would give it around $60-$65 million. Other holdovers should maintain their current rankings in the top five with smallish declines considering the lack of competition.

Here’s how I see it breaking down:

1. The Batman

Predicted Gross: $62.5 million

2. Uncharted

Predicted Gross: $6.7 million

3. Dog

Predicted Gross: $4.4 million

4. Spider-Man: No Way Home

Predicted Gross: $3.8 million

5. Death on the Nile

Predicted Gross: $1.9 million

Box Office Results (March 4-6)

As was widely expected, The Batman easily achieved the second best opening of the COVID era (behind Spidey). Robert Pattinson’s introduction as the Caped Crusader took in $134 million. That’s not near as high as my $155.2 million projection but it’s still a solid haul. With an A- Cinemascore grade and little competition, it will rule the month of March until The Lost City arrives on March 25th.

Uncharted dropped to second with $11.1 million, a tad ahead of my $10.5 million forecast. Tom Holland’s almost sure to be newest franchise sits at a cool $100 million.

Channing Tatum’s Dog was third with $6.1 million (I said $6.4 million) for a three-week take of $40 million.

Spider-Man: No Way Home was fourth at $4.5 million compared to my $3.8 million prediction. The massive tally is $786 million.

Death on the Nile rounded out the top five with $2.7 million (I went with $2.5 million). Total is $37 million.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time… same Bat time… same Bat channel…

March 4-6 Box Office Predictions

It’s an eagerly awaited weekend at the box office as The Batman looks to have the second highest debut of the COVID era (behind only Spider-Man: No Way Home). The DCEU reboot with Robert Pattinson as the Caped Crusader is the only new release of this weekend (and the majority of March) and my detailed prediction post on it can be found here:

The Batman Box Office Prediction

The range of possibility is wide (anywhere from $100 to $200 million depending on what you’re reading). I believe a gross just north of $150 million is most likely and my projection gives it the 20th largest domestic opening of all time.

Holdovers should experience heftier dips than this past weekend with Uncharted, Dog, Spider-Man, and Death on the Nile all sliding a spot. Here’s how I see it looking:

1. The Batman

Predicted Gross: $155.2 million

2. Uncharted

Predicted Gross: $10.5 million

3. Dog

Predicted Gross: $6.4 million

4. Spider-Man: No Way Home

Predicted Gross: $3.8 million

5. Death on the Nile

Predicted Gross: $2.5 million

Box Office Results (February 25-27)

The leftovers didn’t spoil during the last frame of February while the two newcomers didn’t prove appetizing to moviegoers.

Uncharted ruled the charts for the second frame with $23 million, just ahead of my $21.8 million forecast for a two-week total of $83 million. Tom Holland, as I mentioned last week, has himself another promising franchise.

Channing Tatum’s Dog was a good boy in its sophomore outing with $10.1 million, outpacing my $8.4 million take. The two-week haul is $30 million.

Spider-Man: No Way Home was third with $5.8 million (I said $6 million) for a gargantuan take of $779 million.

Death on the Nile was fourth with $4.4 million, edging my $3.7 million prediction for a stalled $32 million overall.

Jackass Forever rounded out the top five with $3.1 million (I went with $2.8 million). It’s up to $52 million.

The fresh product managed respective 8th and 9th place starts. Studio 666, the horror comedy from the Foo Fighters, made only $1.5 million compared to my $2.1 million estimate. Cyrano with Peter Dinklage fared even worse with $1.3 million (I said $1.8 million).

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

February 25-27 Box Office Predictions

Blogger’s Update (02/23): The theater count for Studio 666 has been announced and it’s higher than expected with just over 2300 screens. I’m upping my estimate a bit from $1.4 million to $2.1 million.

As February closes out and we await the massive release of The Batman to begin March, the top five may look the same this weekend. There are two new titles: the musical romantic drama Cyrano with Peter Dinklage and the Foo Fighters led horror comedy Studio 666. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on them here:

Cyrano Box Office Prediction

Studio 666 Box Office Prediction

I’ve got both of the newcomers posting debuts in the $2 million range- $1.8 million for Cyrano and $2.1 million for 666. That would put both outside of the top five.

As for the holdovers, the post President’s Day weekend usually sees rather large drops for those returnees. After as its terrific debut (more on that below), Uncharted could be headed for a slide in the 50 percent range with Dog in the low to mid 40s. Spider-Man: No Way Home, Death on the Nile, and Jackass Forever should hold their spots in the 3-5 positions.

So as the Caped Crusader readies for his closeup and a nine figure start (my box office prediction for it will be up tomorrow), here’s how I see things happening this weekend:

1. Uncharted

Predicted Gross: $21.8 million

2. Dog

Predicted Gross: $8.4 million

3. Spider-Man: No Way Home

Predicted Gross: $6 million

4. Death on the Nile

Predicted Gross: $3.7 million

5. Jackass Forever

Predicted Gross: $2.8 million

Box Office Results (February 18-21)

It’s Tom Holland’s world and we’re just living in it as his adventure flick Uncharted with Mark Wahlberg dominated the four-day holiday frame with a much bigger than anticipated $51.3 million. That blows away my forecast of $33.7 million and shows that its lead’s star power extends beyond him in the Spidey suit. Expect a sequel to be fast tracked.

Channing Tatum received a welcome return after a lengthy starring role absence as his directorial debut Dog took in $17.3 million, lapping my $13.3 million estimate. With an A- Cinemascore grade, this could perform well over subsequent weeks as Tatum has The Lost City lined up with Sandra Bullock a month from now.

That other franchise of Holland’s – Spider-Man: No Way Home – was third with $9.2 million as it swung past my $7.3 million take. At $772 million, it’s perched at #3 domestically all-time.

Death on the Nile stalled in its sophomore frame and fell from first to fourth with $7.7 million (I went higher at $9.8 million). The underwhelming two week total is $26 million.

Jackass Forever was fifth with $6 million (I said $5.7 million) for a three week tally of $47 million.

Finally, Jennifer Lopez’s rom com Marry Me was sixth in its second go-round with $4.3 million compared to my more generous $6 million prediction. It’s made $17 million.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

February 18-21 Box Office Predictions

The video game adaptation Uncharted with Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg looks to rule the #1 spot over the four-day President’s Day weekend while Channing Tatum’s directorial debut Dog hopes for a solid second place showing. They’re the newbies coming on Friday and you can peruse my detailed prediction posts on both of them here:

Uncharted Box Office Prediction

Dog Box Office Prediction

While reviews are mixed (50% currently on Rotten Tomatoes) for Uncharted, it should easily take a commanding lead for the POTUS frame. My low to mid 30s take puts it at about two and half times the gross of Dog, which finds Mr. Tatum in his first starring role in nearly half a decade.

As for holdovers, the long weekend should allow for smallish drop-offs. We’ve seen that play out previously during the mid February time period. Death on the Nile, following its mediocre start, might flirt with staying in double digits (I have it just under) with Spider-Man: No Way Home (that other Holland pic), Marry Me, and Jackass Forever filling out the rest of the chart.

Here’s how I envision the top 6 and these are estimates over the Friday to Monday holiday:

1. Uncharted

Predicted Gross: $33.7 million

2. Dog

Predicted Gross: $13.3 million

3. Death on the Nile

Predicted Gross: $9.8 million

4. Spider-Man: No Way Home

Predicted Gross: $7.3 million

5. Marry Me

Predicted Gross: $6 million

6. Jackass Forever

Predicted Gross: $5.7 million

Box Office Results (February 11-13)

As mentioned, Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile (his follow-up to 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express) went a bit off the tracks with $12.8 million. That’s shy of my $14.3 million projection and it’s less than half of what Orient accomplished out of the gate.

Jackass Forever dropped to second with $8 million. The 65% drop was the largest of the five picture franchise and under my prediction of $11.3 million. The prankster sequel stands at $37 million after ten days.

Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson couldn’t get audiences to fall for them as Marry Me debuted in third with $7.9 million. That didn’t match my expectation of $11.2 million. Its simultaneous Peacock streaming start might have caused many couples to simply view from home.

Spider-Man: No Way Home was fourth with $7.5 million (I said $7.1 million) for $759 million overall. The MCU smash is just $1 million away from Avatar and becoming the third largest domestic earner of all-time (obviously it will hit that mark this week).

Liam Neeson’s latest revenge thriller Blacklight performed in line with his other COVID genre tales Honest Thief and The Marksman. The fifth place tally was $3.5 million, in range with my $3.8 million estimate.

Finally, Moonfall took a giant step down to #8 and fell 70% with $2.9 million in its sophomore outing (I was a little more generous with $3.5 million). Sing 2 and Scream managed to leap it for the sixth and seventh spots. The putrid gross is just $15 million.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

Uncharted Box Office Prediction

A popular series of PlayStation games comes to life when Uncharted opens on February 18th. The adventures tale from Zombieland and Venom director Ruben Fleischer features Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg headlining. Costars include Sophia Ali, Tati Gabrielle, and Antonio Banderas.

Budgeted at a reported $120 million, this should pretty easily top the charts over the long President’s Day weekend. Per usual, it’s undergone a few release date changes in the pandemic era. This time around, the pushback may have helped.

Arriving just two months after Holland’s work as Spider-Man in No Way Home got the box office to unprecedented COVID time levels, audiences may wish to check out his latest potential blockbuster. It doesn’t hurt that gamers could show up too (thought it’s worth mentioning that video game adaptations have a troubled history at multiplexes).

The range for Uncharted is wide. A best case scenario for scenario could be in the $50 million range from Friday to Monday. The floor could be about half of that. I’ll say low to mid 30s is where this ends up.

Uncharted opening weekend prediction: $33.7 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

For my Dog prediction, click here:

Dog Box Office Prediction

Spider-Man: No Way Home Review

Spider-Man’s neighborhood grows exponentially in No Way Home, our third iteration of Tom Holland’s web slinger adventures with Jon Watts back directing. Not all the visitors he encounters are of the friendly sort. As you may recall, the conclusion of predecessor Far From Home had the scheming Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) reveal Peter Parker’s identity to the masses. That has serious repercussions as Peter/Spidey’s anonymity is gone and the Daily Bugle and others paint him as a bad guy.

It might be easier to erase that divulgence so Peter visits his old avenging buddy Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to cast a spell to accomplish that. It doesn’t go as planned and it opens to a portal to a multiverse of characters who knew of Spider-Man’s alter ego. THIS IS WHERE WE GO INTO SPOILERS SO CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED.

Crashing into this trilogy are the antagonists from Spider-tales of old. As in the Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield entries that we witnessed from 2002-2014. The sinister company consists of the Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Doc Ock (Alfred Molina), Electro (Jamie Foxx), Lizard (Rhys Ifans), and Sandman (Thomas Haden Church).

With the great power of the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes a responsibility to tap into our nostalgic leanings and No Way Home does it in heavy doses. Seeing Dafoe’s maniacal Goblin and Molina’s Doc from the first two Maguire installments is a kick. As for the rest, they came from lesser pics (Maguire’s last and both Garfield excursions). That said, Foxx’s characterization is a lot more fun than what we saw in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

My reviews of Homecoming and Far From Home concentrated on the best moments being the most grounded. Holland (the most effective Spidey in my view) and his interactions with love interest MJ (Zendaya), Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), and bestie Ned (Jacob Batalon) were highlights. That holds true here, but No Way Home is anything but grounded. The third go-round is bigger in every sense.

In many ways, it’s the most satisfying since Maguire’s original double feature. Is it gimmicky? Absolutely and there’s an overload of exposition to plow through in the first act. Yet it also reminds us how unique Spider-Man is in the realm of superheroes. It’s also a plus that the villains in this series are complicated ones (for the genre at least) whose motivations are varied and often understandable.

I could go even further down spoiler territory and it’s fair to say the most amazing moments are ones I won’t delve into. No Way Home does provide humorous retribution for one hero in particular (you’ll know when you see it). This is grand entertainment that occasionally approaches the scale of the wars and endgame of Spider-Man’s former team. He’s got a fresh troupe of buddies to collaborate with to save humanity in this trilogy capper. The teamwork provide multiple thrills.

*** (out of four)

2021: The Year of Zendaya

Going into 2021, Zendaya had already collected an Emmy for her leading role on HBO’s Euphoria and was known to moviegoers for her parts in the Spider-Man franchise and The Greatest Showman. She is the subject of my second write-up for performers who had a meaningful 2021 and it’s no coincidence that she’s the second that appeared in Spider-Man: No Way Home (currently breaking all pandemic era box office records). The first was Benedict Cumberbatch… and we might not be done yet with Home costars.

Her inclusion isn’t just due to her onscreen (and apparently offscreen) pairing with Spidey himself, Tom Holland. The actress/singer began the year garnering Oscar chatter for the Netflix drama Malcolm & Marie with John David Washington. While she didn’t ultimately nab an Academy mention, she was on the Critics Choice Awards radar for her acclaimed performance.

By summertime, she lent her voice to Space Jam: A New Legacy (voicing Lola Bunny). Her involvement with Warner Bros/HBO Max continued in the fall with the long awaited sci-fi epic Dune. It looks to be her first picture that will achieve plenty of award nominations and the sequel is already lined up for 2023.

And, of course, she capped it all off with her third appearance as MJ in the massive MCU series. Zendaya expanded her reach in 2021 as her films reached plenty of homes this year. My Year of posts will continue…

The King’s Man Box Office Prediction

In the Yuletide battle for franchise supremacy, The King’s Man will undoubtedly come in fourth among the contenders. A prequel to the two Kingsman features that preceded it, the spy thriller was originally set for release over two years ago. COVID delays have pushed it all the way to December 22nd.

Matthew Vaughn returns in the director’s chair with a cast including Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans (who’s also costarring in Spider-Man: No Way Home), Matthew Goode, Tom Hollander (not to be confused with Tom Holland of Spidey fame), Harris Dickinson, Daniel Bruhl, Djimon Hounsou, and Charles Dance.

The aforementioned Spider-Man juggernaut will most certainly reign supreme over the holidays, followed by The Matrix Resurrections and Sing 2 in the 2-3 slots (the order of that is up for debate). Moviegoers punching their tickets for the superhero and Neo will siphon away plenty of viewers that may have an interest in this.

In February 2015, Kingsman: The Secret Service exceeded expectations with a Presidents Day weekend haul of over $40 million. 2017 sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle made $39 million in its September debut. Four years is quite a lag time between entries and the fact that it’s a prequel (and missing Colin Firth and Taron Egerton) doesn’t help. The 45% Rotten Tomatoes score doesn’t inspire great confidence either.

The five-day grosses should be able to reach low double digits to low teens, but it might only make single digits for the traditional Friday to Sunday frame. I believe the competition is just too steep for the King’s to shine.

The King’s Man opening weekend prediction: $8.8 million (Friday to Sunday); $13.1 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my The Matrix Resurrections prediction, click here:

The Matrix Resurrections Box Office Prediction

For my Sing 2 prediction, click here:

Sing 2 Box Office Prediction

For my American Underdog prediction, click here:

American Underdog Box Office Prediction

For my A Journal for Jordan prediction, click here:

A Journal for Jordan Box Office Prediction

Oscar Predictions – Spider-Man: No Way Home

When Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man trilogy kicked off nearly 20 years ago, it managed to nab a Best Visual Effects nod (losing to Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers). Two years later, the 2004 sequel won the prize. Since then, the five Spidey features that followed (Maguire’s third, both Andrew Garfield iterations, and the first two Tom Holland MCU flicks) didn’t show up in the race. Will Spider-Man: No Way Home change that?

The 27th entry (and fourth this year) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe debuts Friday and I have it pegged for the fourth best domestic opening of all time (behind Avengers: Endgame, Avengers: Infinity War, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens). The review embargo lifted early this morning and it stands at an impressive 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.

While nearly all critical notices are positive, I don’t think this will be the second MCU title to nab a Best Picture nomination behind Black Panther. While Best Sound is feasible, Home‘s best hope at Academy inclusion is in Visual Effects. MCU movies vying for that prize is not unusual. The inaugural pic in the biggest franchise of all (2008’s Iron Man) made the cut. So have Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Infinity War, and Endgame. None have won.

So despite the last quintet of web slinger sagas not being honored for their effects, Home should have no problem? I don’t think it’s quite that simple. There are two Warner Bros sci-fi extravaganzas (Dune and The Matrix Resurrections) that should get in. That leaves three slots. Warner has another hopeful with Godzilla vs. Kong. Marvel itself has Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Eternals (and Black Widow to a lesser degree) vying for spots. Shang-Chi especially could get in (the Critics Choice Awards included it on their ballot). Don’t Look Up, Finch, and No Time to Die are other possibilities. It’s worth noting that whether Home makes the five, Dune is the very heavy favorite to take gold.

Here’s my hunch: by the time Academy voters cast their final votes, Home appears bound to have heightened box office numbers to their highest achievements in the pandemic era. That fact alone might get it some recognition from the Oscars and that would be for its visuals. Another interesting stat: of the ten current largest stateside premieres ever, only two (Avengers: Age of Ultron and Jurassic World) didn’t score at least one nomination from the Academy. That puts this in a decent position. My Oscar Predictions posts for the films of 2021 will continue…