Looks like Trans4mers is going to fall short of $300 million domestic, which will make this the first summer in over a decade for a summer film to fail to reach that goal. Pretty amazing. Studios can only blame piracy for so much. With ticket prices always increasing, with blockbusters designed to have a more generic, globally-friendly feel, they’ll still make their money, and continue to in record numbers, but they also have those expensive films that flop.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 – Here’s a movie that should have done better. The marketing didn’t get off the ground fast enough in my opinion. It should have had an unavoidable teaser in December/January, then get the big push around April. HTTYD2 almost snuck up on me.
The movie itself is really good. It’s more mature than the usual animated fare. It lets the characters age and grow, and it’s allowed time to pass between sequels. So many sequels feel like the characters have had zero life experience between the closing credits of Part 1 and the closing credits of Part 2.
The big reveal for this film is that we find out Hiccup’s mother is still alive, and she’s been training dragons the past twenty years. I didn’t care for the explanation of why she’d stayed away all this time, and her husband and son forgive her waaay too easily for abandoning them and letting them think she was dead. But that’s a quibble. There’s more to this weird Viking world to explore, and we meet new dragons, new creatures, and new villains. This feels closer to a Star Wars adventure than anything.
Emmy Nominations – The snubs I’m most bummed for? Keri Russell & Matthew Rhys of The Americans, Brooklyn Nine-Nine for Comedy, and Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson) again for Parks & Recreation.
Casting News – Robert Redford has played Bob Woodward and now he’ll play Dan Rather in Truth, about Rather’s 2004 CBS report of memos critical of President George W. Bush’s National Guard service. CBS had to retract the story less than two weeks later. Cate Blanchett will play producer Mary Mapes, and its her memoir on which the movie is based.
– Jonah Hill may be the next actor to join the Coen brothers’ Hail Caesar!, which takes place in 1950’s Hollywood. George Clooney, Channing Tatum, Tilda Swinton, Josh Brolin and Ralph Fiennes star, and Scarlett Johansson is in talks to also possibly join.
Coming Soon – The Purge: Anarchy opens on July 18, and am I the only one hoping it’ll be good? The first one was a disappointment, and now the sequel won’t even have Ethan Hawke in it, but I’m hoping that the filmmakers learned from the mistakes of the first one, and I’m interested in seeing Frank Grillo as a good guy. Something that bugs me about the Purge: wouldn’t hackers use those 12 hours to break into financial institutions’ systems and steal all their money?
Exodus: Gods & Kings has a trailer, and it looks terrificly epic.
Pros: No rock monsters.
Cons: No Emma Watson.
And if you’re still in a trailer-watching mood after that, may I suggest Dear White People.
And Now… A Larry King Paragraph – Eleven sequels are already on the docket for Summer 2016, and it wouldn’t surprise if a couple more get added to it soon… LeBron James going back to Cleveland is terrific for them and for the NBA. It shakes things up… I don’t bite my fingernails so much as tear them off when they get too long… Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling are teaming up for a 1970’s crime-noir flick. I approve… So is this Gotti biopic happening, or what?… The national media has never been able to fill the hole left by Tim Russert. He was the Lion of NBC. Best possible replacement that I could see is Jake Tapper, but he doesn’t get near the views on a daytime CNN show that he would manning Meet the Press.
Catching Up on 2013:
Peeples – This remake/ripoff of Meet the Parents has its own pleasures, watching Craig Robinson, David Alan Grier, Kerry Washington and S. Epatha Merkeson go through the similar situations that Ben Stiller, Robert DeNiro, Teri Polo and Blythe Danner went through. Robinson knows how to squirm, and Grier has a great withering stare. It also relies a lot on comic contrivances, so it’s one where I’m glad I waited for it to be on Netflix to see.
The Counselor – Caught this on HBO the other day. Wanted to see if a movie with this much talent was really as bad as they say. (Ridley Scott directs, Cormac McCarthy writes, and the cast includes Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem). It isn’t incompetently bad, it’s just incoherently bad. It’s as though Ridley Scott fell in love with not having any answers when he made Prometheus, and the bad habits continue here. We get a series of conversations and I was a half-hour in before I realized I still didn’t have any idea what was going on. We do eventually see that Fassbender’s counselor (they never say his name) is deeply involved with druglords and they want him dead. It’s a nasty and brutish world in which he lives. And as for that scene where Diaz has sex with a car, I have one question. “Why?”