2/16/2020

Podcast: Talking SONIC THE HEDGEHOG, FANTASY ISLAND, THE BATMAN Teaser, & More


On this week's show, Travis and John talk SONIC THE HEDGEHOG, and if its box office means video game movies have lost the negative stigma. Plus a review of Blumhouse's FANTASY ISLAND, news on Warner Bros. continued attempts to save BIRDS OF PREY, Marvel's ETERNALS reveals its first openly gay superhero, THE BATMAN's debut tease, and more!

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Box Office: 'Sonic The Hedgehog' Sprints To A Record-Breaking $57M Debut, 'Parasite' Has Epic Oscars Boost


1. Sonic the Hedgehog (review)- $57M
Sonic the Hedgehog zoomed past Detective Pikachu ($54M) to have the highest-grossing opening weekend ever for a video game movie.The film based on the Sega mascot opened with $57M Fri-Sun, with an estimated $68M lasting through the Monday holiday. This is huge for Paramount and the folks at Blur Studios who delayed the film a few months following Internet uproar over Sonic's initial designs, which nobody liked. It seems to have worked out for the better. The film features Ben Schwartz as the voice of Sonic, with Jim Carrey's mad performance as Dr. Robotnik a true highlight and, I believe, a big reason people are turning out in droves.
2. Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey- $17.1M/$59.2M
The Birds of Prey haven't soared quite as high as Warner Bros. hoped, but the movie is still shaping up to be a modest hit. Margot Robbie-led Suicide Squad spinoff fell 48% for $17.1M, reaching $59M domestic. That's not great, but hardly a disaster for the estimated $100M movie, especially since it has done very well overseas and has $145M worldwide. WB has been tweaking their marketing plan to fix where they went wrong, and I think it's too early to say what effect that'll have. The well-reviewed movie could stick around for a while now that it's survived Sonic's opening weekend blitz.
3. Fantasy Island- $12.4M
Blumhouse's Fantasy Island opened with $12M, which is on the low end for the horror studio. It's based on the iconic TV series in which guests arrive at a mysterious island to have their fantasies fulfilled, only this is Blumhouse and everything turns into a nightmare.  A really fun idea that, as I can attest having endured it yesterday, really doesn't amount to much at all It's pretty damn terrible, as the C- Cinemascore confirms. Nobody's hurt over this one, though, not with an estimated $7M and probably a healthy post-theatrical run on Bluray and digital.
4. The Photograph (review)- $12.2M
The romantic offering for Valentine's Day was The Photograph, which stars Lakeith Stanfield and Issa Rae as a New York couple who fall in love while researching her deceased mother. I expected more considering the cast, the timing, and the strength of producer Will Packer's brand. Reviews have been solid if unremarkable, but I feel like this was its moment and it'll be downhill from here.
5. Bad Bads for Life- $11.3M/$181.3M
6. 1917- $8M/$144.4M
7. Jumanji: The Next Level- $5.7M/$305.7M
8. Parasite- $5.5M/$43.1M
The Oscars boost is real, and in the case of Parasite it's record-breaking. The historic Best Picture winner jumped 234% and expanded to 2001 theaters in the 19th-week of release, earning $5.5M. That's the biggest post-Oscars jumps ever for a Best Picture winner since Gladiator in 2000.
9. Dolittle- $5M/$70.5M
10. Downhill (review)- $4.6M
The days of Will Ferrell fronting comedy blockbusters are long over, but a $4.6M debut for Downhill is still pretty surprising. The American remake of 2014 Swedish hit Force Majeure follows a married couple dealing with the aftermath of the husband's cowardly retreat from an apparent avalanche. The film, which co-stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus and is written/directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, premiered at Sundance weeks ago where the reviews were modestly positive. That hasn't carried over, however, with a "D" Cinemascore pretty much guaranteeing a short stay in theaters.

Kevin Smith Reveals Star-Studded 'Masters Of The Universe: Revelation' Voice Cast


So his Howard the Duck series for Marvel may have fallen through, but Kevin Smith has an even more promising animated show in the works for Netflix. A stellar voice cast has been announced for Masters of the Universe: Revelation, which will follow the popular He-Man characters we grew up with in the '80s.

The anime-style series will feature a Batman: The Animated Series reunion with Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as two of the most prominent voices. Not only that, but you can add Game of Thrones and The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance's Lena Headey, also reuniting with Hamill. Others in the cast include  Jason Mewes, Justin Long, Liam Cunningham, Stephen Root, Diedrich Bader, Griffin Newman, Tiffany Smith, Henry Rollins, Alan Oppenheimer, Susan Eisenberg, and Alicia Silverstone.

According to THR, the series won't be a reboot, but will follow “the unresolved storylines of the iconic characters in the He-Man universe, picking up where they left off decades ago.” So if you were wondering whatever happened to Man-at-Arms, this is the place to go.

Masters of the Universe: Revelation has yet to be given a release date, but you can still tune into Netflix for She-Ra and the Princesses of Power if you really need some action from the He-Man universe.

2/15/2020

Review: 'VFW' Makes Up For Its Story With Unforgiving Brutal Action Sequences


A typical night for veterans at a VFW post turns into an all-out battle for survival when a desperate teen runs into the bar with a bag of stolen drugs. When a gang of violent punks come looking for her, the vets use every weapon at their disposal to protect the girl and themselves from an unrelenting attack.

I am always one to support independent filmmaking. It is a difficult task for any filmmaker to craft a fully-fledged movie, short film or feature-length. Even Hollywood directors have to put all their effort and hard work into making their project the best it can possibly be. But independent directors probably have it the hardest. They do not have a gigantic budget at their disposal and they more than likely don't have a large list of celebrities they can cast in their work, either.

Whenever a new indie film is released, I go out of my way to see it. Especially horror. Anybody that truly knows me knows that horror is my favorite genre in all of fiction. Not just movies. It also applies to television, books, and more.

Joe Begos' latest feature VFW is an insanely weird and over-the-top film and it lets you know that right from the opening frames and it carries its craziness all the way until the end. It is an unapologetically brutal and unforgiving in all the best ways. It's a stylish bloodbath of fun, even if it has its fair share of issues.

The concept behind this film is one that truly excited me. The whole idea of this crazy drug named "Hype" that basically turns makes people go wild in the streets seemed like it would be a crazy thing to explore and for the most part, it was. Sadly, we never get to learn a whole lot about this fictional drug itself, and it would have been nice to explore that a little bit more.

But with that being said, this is still a relentlessly entertaining movie for the most part. The first act does drag quite a bit, though. The opening credits of the film screamed Ridley Scott's Blade Runner and it seemed somewhat unoriginal. In addition to this, the opening credits here with all of the actors' names appearing on screen went on for far too long. They had actor names appear on screen for a solid ten minutes, and it did take me out of the movie. Gratefully though, after the initial setup of the plot, VFW becomes a gory thrill-ride.

It is also a movie that has an immensely talented cast with the likes of Stephen Lang, William Sadler, Martin Kove, and Fred Williamson being involved with this project. By far the strongest actor here is Lang, who portrays the lead character Fred Parras. Throughout the course of the film, we do get to learn more about him and where he comes from, and he does get some much-needed character development. Watching Fred go on his journey in this movie was a ton of fun.

However, other actors like Kove and Williamson sadly get saddled. They almost always tend to focus on Lang's character, and as a result, we don't get to know a whole lot about the other protagonists that we follow. Don't get me wrong, all of the other actors involved are doing a good job. The problem is not the actors. The problem lies within the script and the way it treated the characters. It should have spent some more time making the others stand out more.

Production company Fangoria is well known for producing some incredibly bloody horror films that have been appreciated by genre fans, and VFW is no exception. One of the first things we see in the film is somebody's body explode after falling to the ground, and it sets up what is to come for the rest of the movie.

While all of these sequences are entertaining, the story here was not front and center. It definitely felt like Begos was putting all of his effort towards making these kills as brutal as possible. It is both a positive and a negative. On one hand, it is relentlessly entertaining to watch these over-the-top sequences play out on screen, but on the other hand, the story gets thrown to the side for the most part.

The same thing can be said about the characters and their development, too. For the most part, our lead protagonists do not get a lot of development and their arcs are not too existent, unfortunately.

If you want to watch a movie that contains some extremely well-done, bloody, ridiculously gory and insane action scenes, then this is most definitely going to do the trick. It certainly entertained me. But do not go into this film expecting a gripping and riveting storyline that will move you or anything like that. Watch this knowing it is a fun action/horror film and you will probably like it.

VFW's strengths lie in its unforgiving brutality and intense action sequences, but it does lack in its character and story department.

                           3 out of 5

'The Secret: Dare To Dream' Trailer: Katie Holmes Learns To Think Positive In Drama Based On The Self-Help Bestseller


In 2006 Rhonda Byrne's self-help book The Secret became a global phenomenon, attracting the attention and endorsement of celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Ellen Degeneres, and many more. It was actually preceded by a wildly successful documentary that brought in $65M worldwide, which is where many were introduced to the New Thought concept that happiness can be attained by simply thinking about and believing in a goal, so as to attract it into your life. Somebody in Hollywood has been thinking a lot about a movie based on The Secret for a very long time, and it looks like all of their thought positivity worked.

The Secret: Dare to Dream is a fictional story led by Katie Holmes, in which she plays a single mother of three whose life is turned around by a mysterious man, played by Josh Lucas, who believes in powerful energy that attracts things we can't see or feel.  The man fills the family's spirit, but of course, he's literally carrying around a big secret that could change everything.

The tone is exactly what you might expect. It's a bit lighter than some of the self-serious faith-based dramas out there, and could attract just as significant an audience. Then again, I can't shake the feeling this movie is coming years too late to miss the movement at its peak.

Behind the camera is Andy Tennant, best known for directing Hitch, Sweet Home Alabama, and The Bounty Hunter. The guy's resume looks terrible, but he has a track record for huge box office hits, so nobody can knock him.

The Secret: Dare to Dream opens April 17th.



SYNOPSIS: Based on the 2006 best-selling book The Secret, a global phenomenon which empowered millions to lead happier and more fulfilled lives, The Secret: Dare to Dream centers around Miranda Wells (Katie Holmes), a hard-working young widow struggling to raise three children on her own. A powerful storm brings a devastating challenge and a mysterious man, Bray Johnson (Josh Lucas), into her life. In just a few short days, Bray’s presence re-ignites the family’s spirit, but he carries a secret—and that secret could change everything. The groundbreaking book by Rhonda Byrne has sold over 34 million copies worldwide, has been translated into 50 languages and appeared on the New York Times best-seller list for 190 consecutive weeks.

'Run': Domhnall Gleeson And Merritt Wever Fulfill A Pact In Teaser For Phoebe Waller-Bridge's HBO Series


Who hasn't fantasied about dropping their humdrum lives and booking it out of town? Well in the new HBO series Run, Merrit Wever and Domhnall Gleeson team up to do just that. The first teaser, released Friday, shows Wever (Godless, Nurse Jackie, Unbelievable) and Gleeson (Star Wars VII-IX, The Revenant, About Time) quickly packing their bags and boarding a train for who knows where. "It must have been fifteen years. You've remembered everything," Gleeson's character muses over a montage of longing and anxious looks and train shots. Clearly both acting out of impulse, the trailer sets ups the mystery of what they are running from and who they are leaving behind. "I've been totally honest with you," Wever expresses in voice-over before Gleeson delivers the trailer's final blow, "Is anyone totally honest?" Executive produced by Fleabag alumi Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Vicky Jones, the new series will explore what happens next when these two old flames drop everything, fulfill an old pack and run.

Jones, who has written for Killing Eve, directed the original stage production of Fleabag and worked on its first season with Waller-Bridge, will serve as the show's main writer. Knowing Jones and Waller - Bridge's knack for finding the comedy and humanity in life's most intense anxieties, we are in for a wild ride.


Run will premiere on HBO on April 12 at 10:30 pm.

2/14/2020

Guillermo Del Toro's 'Pinocchio' May Include Tilda Swinton, Christoph Waltz, Ewan McGregor, & More


Does the world need another Pinocchio movie? Probably not, but stop-motion version from Guillermo Del Toro? Well, yes, don't mind if I do. Del Toro's been working on this for nearly a decade, but it recently found a home at Netflix where an all-star voice cast is possibly being assembled.

Game of Thrones actor David Bradley revealed to Polish outlet Na Ekraine that he will be voicing Gepetto in Del Toro's version of the classic tale. He says he'll be joined by Del Toro's Hellboy pal Ron Perlman, Tilda Swinton, Ewan McGregor, and Christoph Waltz. Damn. No word on who they'll be voicing.

This should be taken with at least a little bit of salt until there's official confirmation from Netflix. Things change, and given that Del Toro will be busy for quite a while on Nightmare Alley, who knows if all of these people will stick around long enough for when Pinocchio rolls.

'Run This Town' Trailer: Ben Platt Tries To Break The Rob Ford Scandal Wide Open


Compared to the daily dose of criminality coming out of the White House right now, the political scandal that surrounded Toronto Mayor Rob Ford seems positively quaint. Ford was the Canadien politician caught on tape smoking crack cocaine in 2013, which on top of his other scandals and his big, colorful personality made this a headline-grabbing story all over the world. The upcoming movie Run this Town centers on the Mayor's downfall, viewed from the perspective of an intrepid reporter played by Ben Platt.

Run this Town is written and directed by Ricky Tollman in his debut feature. Joining Platt in the cast are Aladdin's Mena Massoud (I thought he couldn't find work?? Liar!), Nina Dobrev, Scott Speedman, Gil Bellows, Jennifer Ehle, and Damian Lewis as Ford.

SYNOPSIS: A young journalist and a young political aide become entangled in a larger-than-life political scandal as they struggle to navigate adult life. Like all their friends, Bram and Kamal are struggling to climb the ladders at their respective workplaces: Bram at a newspaper, Kamal at City Hall. When Bram learns of a scandal involving Kamal’s larger-than-life boss, he seizes the moment to advance his career. Meanwhile, Kamal grapples with containing the story while maintaining his integrity.

Run this Town hits theaters and VOD on March 6th.

Bradley Cooper Eyed For Bee Gees Biopic From 'Bohemian Rhapsody' Writer


A Star is Born was a Hell of a way for Bradley Cooper to begin his directing career. Not only did it earn multiple Oscar nominations, winning one for Best Original Song, but you couldn't turn on the radio without hearing Cooper and co-star Lady Gaga's Grammy-winning musical performance. The movie was a phenomenon, and surprisingly, Cooper may be looking to do another musical drama next. You'd think he would want to avoid obvious comparisons.

According to DailyMail's Baz Bamigboye, Cooper is being sought to play Barry Gibb in a Bee Gees biopic. The musical film is being written by Anthony McCarten, who has had the golden touch penning Bohemian Rhapsody, The Theory of Everything, The Two Popes, and Darkest Hour. So this has Oscars written all over it, even at this early stage. That Bohemian Rhapsody movie made a little bit of money, didn't it?

Gibb and his brothers Maurice and Robin arrived to London from Australia and became an integral part of the psychedelic pop and disco scenes, ultimately selling more than 120 million albums worldwide. The family act was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.

Producers want Cooper for the Barry Gibb role, but could they also want him to direct? There's nothing on that yet, but one has to assume it's on the table given Cooper's prior success behind the camera.

'Stranger Things' Season 4 Teaser Just Comes Right Out And Reveals What's Up With Hopper


The season three finale of Stranger Things left us on a cliffhanger, with loyal Hawkins chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour) sacrificing himself heroically so that a portal to the Upside Down could be closed. Not that anybody believed for a second that one of the series' most popular characters was actually dead, and immediately, like before we had even had time to process Hopper's death, his return was being teased. And now today, with the new teaser for season four, they just come right out and confirm Hopper's actual whereabouts.

SPOILER ALERT: He's alive and exactly where we thought he was. Oh. The drama.

So yeah, this teaser for Stranger Things season four is pretty underwhelming, even with all its teasing of 1980s Cold War tension. The Russians were a factor before but they'll be front and center this time, and likely involved in the rise of a new monstrous threat the kids will have to battle against.  A note from the Duffer Brothers...

“We’re excited to officially confirm that production on Stranger Things 4 is now underway — and even more excited to announce the return of Hopper! Although it’s not all good news for our “American”; he is imprisoned far from home in the snowy wasteland of Kamchatka, where he will face dangers both human…and other. Meanwhile, back in the states, a  new horror is beginning to surface, something long-buried, something that connects everything….

Season 4 is shaping up to be the biggest and most frightening season yet, and we cannot wait for everyone to see more. In the meantime — pray for the American.” From

Russia with love,
The Duffer Brothers

Stranger Things returns to Netflix later this year!