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Let’s Be Clear – Batman Is A Cheat And A Scallywag!



Batman v Superman

[dropcap]B[/dropcap]atman – let’s just make this as clear as possible – is a cheat and a scalawag and, well, too sleazy (and too smart) to go to battle with his colleague Superman without a little kryptonite in his pocket.

Batman v Superman

Without muscles like comic book Batman, Affleck’s Batman has to resort to some dirty tricks.

The idea here was to write a bit about who might have been the victor in the thunder-battle between the Caped Protector of Gotham and the Hero of Metropolis, as depicted in the newly-released Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. But that idea fell apart decisively when I saw the film.

In jest, this was supposed to be a sports column. But the movie doesn’t leave room for that, so I’m writing an editorial, instead.

The movie – for a brief aside here – is so confusing and convoluted that I even asked my movie-going escort what the two headliners were fighting about. I knew the answer, but it is indicative of director Zack Snyder‘s poor directing that I even had to check with someone about the motivation for the main event. My question was something like, “Are they really fighting about this?” And my escort nodded. OK, so be it.

Batman v Superman

Superman’s rage against the cheating Batman is apparent.

I figure in Las Vegas, the odds before the movie’s release were about 100-1 in Superman’s favor, but then the issue of second guessing Hollywood must be considered.

Hollywood never leaves the house without thinking up the most melodramatic plot line, which meant, of course, that nobody was going down in this Herculean punch-out in the opening round. That meant Batman would hold his own for a few rounds, which meant – if he could hold his own – that he could actually land the victorious haymaker and emerge victorious.

For all his fights, has Superman ever been knocked unconscious before – or even knocked off his feet? Well, we were going to find out.

But all this convoluted reasoning brought the odds down considerably. Just before the movies release, I figured the odds were about 25-1 in favor of the Man of Steel.

See, fights in Hollywood are rarely even until the end. Usually, the winner gets pounded to a pulp right up to the last moment, when the sneering loser turns his back on the bloody victor who won’t give up. At that point, the victor gets up for one more try – and somehow lands a staggering blow that opens the door to victory.

Superhero fights are different as both sides are invincible going in, but it is still hard for Hollywood to break with tradition. Every fight is a morality tale, whether it’s mortals, immortals or superheroes. Only wait just a minute here — it turns out that Snyder’s Batman, played by Ben Affleck, is certifiably bat crazy. So, all the bets might be canceled on that technicality, because that means anything can happen.

Ben Affleck Batman v Superman

This is not a bat you want to mess with.

Synder’s Batman does not shave. He wears a five o’clock shadow in every scene but one. He is scruffy, isolated and mentally unstable to the point that he brands the criminals he catches with a red-hot bat-shaped medallion after he ties them up. Snyder gets away with this by having Batman focus his vigilante efforts on sexual predators, which is Hollywood’s universal get-out-of-jail free card. With sexual predators, you can do anything you want and the audience will forgive you.

Still, it’s pretty clear that this Batman has been breathing in too much mildew. Affleck is puffy and slow and has no friends and even less wit to make him appealing (let alone lovable). In fact, he is so isolated that, in spite of his own delirious rampages, he decides that Superman is the one who has crossed the line from Vigilante Eagle Scout to Dangerous Showboat. So Batman figures it’s time to take Superman down.

But, what does he do? Well, Batty brings a spear to the fight that is forged out of the darkly glowing green mass of kryptonite that keeps most of the movie’s plot alive.

OK, now all bets are really off. Of course, there are a few punches thrown and a few buildings in the immediate background turn to rubble, accordingly. But John Wayne never threw acid in his opponents’ eyes. He stood his ground for love and glory. None of this spear-packed-with-kryptonite stuff.

Outside of the Bat Cave, we call this cheating, you sonar-challenged, upside down rodent.

So the sports column was canceled and this editorial ensued. In so many words: Very bush league, Bat-dude. Well, maybe next time.

[author title=”About The Author” image=””]Movie guy Anthony Hall is an enigma. He’s never been photographed and only works late at night after everyone has left the office. Hall’s articles have appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Miami Herald (and more). [/author]

Box Office

“The Grinch” Steals Box Office, “Overlord” and “Spider” Left With Scraps



The holiday Christmas movie season starts early as it usually does in November. Just one week after The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, along comes Dr. Suess’ The Grinch, the theatrical animated adaptation of the classic children’s novel, helmed by Illumination Studios of Despicable Me fame. The animated comedy raked in $66 million for its first weekend, well on its way to conquering its $75 million budget as the holidays roll on. Given Illumination’s track record with comedy among kids, expect the film to stick around for the next two months.

The rather high box office of Grinch stole the thunder of the other two films debuting this weekend. Overlord, a Nazi zombie action/horror romp, debuted at #3 with a domestic gross of $10.1 million, which is not exactly a strong opening for a film with a $38 million budget. But it could’ve been worse as The Girl in the Spider’s Web: A New Dragon Tattoo Story, the action sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, premiered at #5 with a box office take of only $8 million on a $43 million budget. Don’t be surprised if you see these darker, violent films take a tumble coming into the holiday season that seeks more PG-13 genre films for the families to venture out to the theater for.

Bohemian Rhapsody, the Freddie Mercury and Queen biopic, is holding firm at #2 on its second weekend with a weekend gross of $30.8 million, bumping its domestic total up to $100 million. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, however, isn’t doing so well in its second weekend. The Disney fantasy adventure only made $9.5 million over the weekend, a 53% drop with a domestic total sitting at a meager $35 million. Not a very strong take for a Disney Christmas fantasy that cost $120 million.

It’s no surprise, however, that David Gordon Green’s Halloween took the biggest dip of the weekend at 64%. It’s surprising the horror film is even still here at #9 in the box office, the domestic total now sitting at a very pleasing $156 million. Also holding firm once again at #10 is The Hate U Give, having made $26 million for only being in 1,100 theaters.

View the full top 10 box office weekend results below.

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch ($66,000,000)
Bohemian Rhapsody ($30,850,000)
Overlord ($10,100,000)
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms ($9,565,000)
The Girl in the Spider’s Web: A New Dragon Tattoo Story ($8,015,000)
A Star is Born ($8,010,000)
Nobody’s Fool ($6,540,000)
Venom ($4,850,000)
Halloween ($3,840,000)
The Hate U Give ($2,070,000)

Next weekend will feature magical beasts versus dysfunctional families versus women robbers. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the second film in the new Harry Potter spin-off series, will debut in 4,000 theaters. Instant Family, a family comedy starring Rose Byrne and Mark Wahlberg, will hit 3,000 theaters. Also debuting in 3,000 theaters will be Widows, the all-star heist picture directed by Steve McQueen and starring Viola Davis.

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Movie News

Review: “Overlord” is a Gritty, Gory Genre Mash



Overlord is one of those delicious genre blenders that delivers World War II action and viciously gruesome body horror into a beautifully bloody cocktail of entertainment. In the same way that From Dusk Till Dawn convinced you into watching one type of film before switching gears, so too does this war film that soon mutates into an equally as frightening tale of science experiments gone wrong. And although the subgenre of Nazi zombies is a fairly small one, this is by far one of the most fun.

Starting loud and explosive, making great use of IMAX, we’re quickly thrown into the action with an interesting ensemble of soldiers tasked with taking down a Nazi control tower in French territory. Private Boyce (Jovan Adepo) is fearful of combat and reasonably so when everyone is shooting at you when making a rocky landing and losing more than half his comrades. His methods of choosing the least lethal options clashes greatly with the ruthless Captain Ford, played by a stellar Wyatt Russell, son of Kurt Russell who has that same great level of grit in his performance. Meeting up with a handful of other soldiers, they secretly make their plans in a Nazi-occupied French village to assault the tower where the Nazis have established a base.

Though Boyce is prepared to take down the target, he’s not prepared for what he discovers underneath the base. The Nazis have a classic mad doctor hard at work on breeding the ultimate race of super soldiers. These monsters are not ready yet and Boyce, unfortunately, happens upon the stepping stones of mangled corpses, howling undead, and decapitated heads begging for death. Of course, this is all helmed by a nervous mad scientist, Dr. Schmidt (Erich Redman), and a sneeringly sinister overseeing Nazi Officer Wafner (Pilou Asbæk).

While the Nazi experiments are in desperate need of improvement, Overlord shoots straight for the guts with gusto when it comes to the action and terror. The US soldiers are portrayed as a lot of colorful characters, including the nasally joking Tibbet (John Magaro) that provides vital comic support. The Nazis are seen as unhinged evil, never wasting an opportunity to shoot a civilian in the streets or rape a woman when she is cornered. And the monsters all feel like brilliant works of terrifying body horror, where necks snap open and chunks of flesh fall off the face. Consider how when the French civilian of Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier) gets in on the action; she quickly goes from fearful sister looking after her ailing aunt to a flamethrower-touting badass.

But what’s most remarkable about all this is how it never feels the need to blatantly wink with its theatrics, shying away from trying too hard to seem badass. This movie is badass and it knows enough not to amp up the humor when setting undead zombies aflame or watching someone’s body contort in unnatural ways. The tongue is buried firmly in cheek, chewing on its meaty set pieces of blood and explosions to stand firm without a knowing nod to the audience. Such earnest seems almost rare in films that want to replicate that grindhouse flavor of filmmaking.

Overlord more than earns its brutal showdown of fierce fights and abundance of firey blasts, putting in all the grunt work of a capable war and horror film. With the relatively fresh direction of Julius Avery, it’s a film that is smart enough to have faith in its grit of the disturbing elements from both genres that it never feels the need to spice it up too high with self-consciousness. And in its own weird way, it’s serious and subtle enough that we can buy into the fantasy of a Nazi zombie story told straight with character and cunning. After all, we’ve already had the over-the-top angle with Dead Snow. The time has finally come for this subgenre to be taken seriously. Or about as seriously as it can be taken.

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Box Office

Big “Bohemian Rhapsody” Opening While “Nutcracker” Trails



In weekend box office battle, it’s Queen who is king. Bohemian Rhapsody, the Freddy Mercury and Queen biopic, came in at #1 making $50 million domestic. With a $52 million budget, this is a very successful opening for the film, despite the mixed critic reaction. Falling just behind it with less than half the take is The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, Disney’s latest fantasy adventure debuting early for the Christmas season. The film did poorly with critics and even poorer at the box office, bringing in only $20 million which is not a good debut at all for such an expensive epic. Also just behind is Tyler Perry’s new romantic comedy, Nobody’s Fool, taking in $14 million, strangely low for a Tyler Perry movie, especially when you consider that higher budget of $19 million.

Since Halloween is over, it’s natural to see that David Gordon Green’s Halloween would dip in the box office and it certainly fell the lowest this week with a 64% drop. Falling sharply from #1 to #5, the film made $11 million for the weekend but it’s not a huge concern given the film has already made $150 million on a budget of $10 million. Almost tying with the picture is A Star Is Born, the Bradley Cooper/Lady Gaga musical drama that has proven to be a box office darling, earning $11.1 million over the weekend with a $165 million domestic gross. And still sticking like goo to the box office is Venom, Sony’s solo villain picture starring Tom Hardy, making another $7.8 million for a domestic total nearly at $200 million.

Aside from A Star is Born being the smallest drop of the weekend, it also tied for the lowest drop with Smallfoot, Warner Bros animated comedy that is proving to have modest legs to stick around. The animated film with the voices of Channing Tatum and James Cordon made $3.8 million for a $77 million domestic gross. And The Hate U Give, the racial drama, is still hanging in there at #10 with a domestic total now sitting at $23 million, rather strong for a drama that slowly rose up over the course of October.

Bohemian Rhapsody ($50,000,000)
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms ($20,000,000)
Nobody’s Fool ($14,000,000)
A Star is Born ($11,100,000)
Halloween ($11,015,000)
Venom ($7,850,000)
Smallfoot ($3,805,000)
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween ($3,700,000)
Hunter Killer ($3,525,000)
The Hate U Give ($3,400,000)

We hope you’re ready for Christmas because those movies are going to start early. Next weekend will see the 4,000 theater debut of The Grinch, the latest animated comedy from Illumination Studios based on the classic Dr. Seuss book. But it’ll have some adult competition with The Girl in the Spider’s Web: A New Dragon Tattoo Story opening in 3,000 theaters (the sequel to 2011’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), and Overlord, a Nazi zombie action picture, opening in 2,500 theaters.

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