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Movie Review: ‘Live by Night’ is a Ben Affleck Snoozer

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Live by Night Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Ben Affleck’s newest flick is less than impressive. Read our movie review of Live by Night to find out why the movie flopped:

[dropcap]B[/dropcap]en Affleck looks good in a suit and fedora, but he seems rather stiff in the role of 1920s gangster Joe Coughlin in Live by Night. His expression is constantly mute, but not with some cold-hearted approach to violence. He has a casual nature to his business of prohibition-era booze hustling with threats of violence, but seems to have some sort of soft spot for women and minorities.

Live by Night Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Ben Affleck looks bored by himself in ‘Live by Night.’

For being such a big player in illegal operations, he’s an incredibly boring character in how Affleck seems so devoid of relatable emotion that I started wondering if he was a robot. Was he afraid of losing that accent? Were the suits too tight? Did he not get enough sleep as he wrote and directed this crime picture? Somebody please wake Affleck up!

Joe has enough interesting events that happen over the course of his life, but most of them are told in the dreariest of tones for a movie with robbery, bootlegging, gunplay, car chases and explosions. He becomes involved with the mafia business when he has an affair with Emma (Sienna Miller), the mistress of the leader of the Irish mob. He’s soon found out by his mob boss, beaten to a pulp and hauled in by the cops.

After having learned that he’s recently lost his father and Emma, Joe believes he has nothing to lose and dives face first into the world of crime. He said he never wanted to become a gangster, but he did anyway. Whatever, he doesn’t question this much anyway as he does with all his actions.

Affleck seems to have confused nothingness with profoundness in how dreary, aimless and forced his character is portrayed. There doesn’t appear to be much a drive for Joe to pursue this line of work in Tampa, but we watch him go through the motions anyway. He builds up the speak-easies and starts making money for the mob, thanks to the easy cooperation of Sheriff Figgis (Chris Cooper). He allies with the Cubans and falls in love with one of them (Zoe Saldana). His old buddy Dion (Chris Messina) acts as his comic relief partner in crime, stealing all the best lines. The Klu Klux Klan attempt to hone in on his turf, but are not too tough to deal with.

Live by Night Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

A few sparks maybe?

Things get messy and people die, but so what? There’s a casual and dead nature to all of this in which Joe seems to breezily roll with the punches. But shouldn’t he display some more expression when he falls in love, grows weak for Figgs’ daughter of a drug abuser turned Christian (Elle Fanning) or delivers a sloppy statement about civil rights? I only saw two moments when Affleck didn’t go soft on the role: When he witnesses a woman he loves being gunned down and when he is violently kicked in the genitals.

Live by Night is a movie that doesn’t have time to examine anything as it quickly skips ahead to the next plot point. The relationship between Affleck and Saldana doesn’t have much chemistry, jumping quickly from brief glance to business deal to dancing to sex without much emotional progression. The dialogue is watered down to its most basic of exposition and character where it almost appears as though the actors are not feeling up to the task of such a script.

Related: It’s La La Land’s Weekend at Golden Globes, Star Wars at Box Office

Brendon Gleason as Joe’s father appears as though he’s half asleep, slurring his lines and never displaying the bitter anger his character has towards his son. It’s almost as if he’s trying to outshine Affleck in displaying how little an actor cares about the role they’re given. There’s no point in being invested in most of these characters as the majority of them suffer brutal deaths, die off-screen or are just forgotten about.

Read more to get the rest of the movie review for Live by Night and watch the trailer:

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.


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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.


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Review: “Captain Marvel” is a Solidly Sensational Sci-Fi Adventure

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Captain Marvel joins the ranks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a much different way. She slides into the MCU via a twisty sci-fi adventure of the 1990s, before the Avengers were formed. And though the film does serve as a strong bridge picture that answers a few more questions about the Marvel universe, the film quickly becomes its own thing and gives its hero a real identity as the powerful addition to the superhero ensemble.

Brie Larson plays Carol Danvers, a woman not sure if she’s a human pilot of Earth or a soldier of the Kree empire’s Starforce. There’s little time to explore these conflicting visions she’s having when there’s special energy powers to control and a war being waged against the shape-shifting Skrull alien creatures. A detour to 1990s Earth gives her a bit of time to find out more while also hunting down some more Skrulls, leading to some interesting scenarios when combatting aliens that could look like old ladies.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) ..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

Carol’s landing on Earth leads to treading down familiar Marvel timeline territory as well as evoking plenty of dated 1990s bits. What started drawing me into the picture was how the film holds itself back from the obvious. The 1990s setting is used for some gags of video stores and Windows 95, sure, but never goes the extra mile of becoming an aggravating reference fest, keeping a certain vibe the way Guardians of the Galaxy embraced the 1970s and 1980s. And just like that film, there’s a nostalgic soundtrack to boot, with choice tracks for just the right cue.

Samuel L. Jackson pops up in the film as a younger Nick Fury with his two eyes still intact. He teams up with Carol in her intergalactic spy adventure and thankfully never goes to the booming lengths he was known for that decade. And the filmmakers could have easily made this younger Fury go full Die Hard 3 or Pulp Fiction but he never does, always keeping that cool persona he has been known for in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..L to R: Att-Lass (Algenis Perez Soto), Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan)..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

But the one aspect that is never shunned and built up grandly is the aspect of female empowerment. Danvers is established as a woman who doesn’t have a clear identity or mindful nature of galactic politics and has to build herself up when she realizes she may be a very powerful pawn in a big game of intergalactic chess. Her memories are that of always being told to back off from non-traditional activities for girls and, sure enough, she rises up to become the smirking and energy-shooting hero when the final piece of her character puzzle is pieced together. It’s just unfortunate that the film spends so much time doing the building amid a twisty sci-fi spy story that Brie never gets a moment to shine as brightly as she could, despite a very enthusiastic third-act closer.

If we’re being blunt, no, Captain Marvel doesn’t quite have the same gravity to be a cultural milestone of a comic book movie. Where others have pointed to Black Panther as not the first the most insightful and cultural of black-led superhero movies, I doubt many will look towards Captain Marvel as the grandest of female-led comic book movies, making its motives known with the power and subtlety of a supernova. But, in terms of what the film is aiming towards, it doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone and that’s perhaps the point. I just wish that Captain Marvel’s astounding powers to destroy starships and aliens had a much bigger punch for a picture that wants to obliterate the glass ceiling and merely cuts a narrow hole within the MCU. It’s a nice hole, mind you, and still weaves a capable and compelling sci-fi adventure with a surprisingly more engaging finale than most Marvel solos.


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