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Scorch Trials heats up young adult Maze series

September 23, 2015
Scorch Trials heats up young adult Maze series

With The Hunger Games being the cinematic Young Adult gold standard (excluding the Harry Potter series which belongs to another untouchable galaxy and the insanely profitable Twilight films that folks can’t forget about fast enough), all others aimed at a teen audience seem to be piled up in a jumbled logjam.
In that cinematic series pile-up is The Maze Runner.

About the film
The first Maze Runner (2014, Movie Man No. 1105, a 6) had its moments but was hardly memorable (just like most young adult adaptations).
While the original didn’t light up the box office – it made $102.4 million, enough to green light, The Scorch Trials, the second of three movies – it did better than a lot of YA series films.… Read the rest

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M. Night Shyamalan returns for a nice Visit

September 16, 2015
M. Night Shyamalan returns for a nice Visit

It must be tricky to come out of the cinematic blocks like a shot, sustain momentum for a while, and then seemingly flame out. That’s what happened to M. Night Shyamalan.

About the film
While Shyamalan had a moderate success as a writer – he penned Stuart Little (1999, Movie Man No. 318, 6) – he soared to fame via the third movie he directed, The Sixth Sense (1999, which the Movie Man famously did not see, choosing that week instead Mystery Men [MM #299, 5].)
It’s easy to forget the hubbub The Sixth Sense caused; it made almost $300 million in America and was required viewing.… Read the rest

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Run don’t walk away from A Walk in the Woods

September 9, 2015
Run don’t walk away from A Walk in the Woods

The concept: Two well respected actors reaching one more time for previous heights from decades earlier.
Those types of movies pop up occasionally and another one has, A Walk in the Woods.
And, as too often happens, the movie isn’t that great.

About the film
For a while there, no actor was hotter than Robert Redford. After acting in a slew of TV shows in the 1960’s – his lone appearance on the original Twilight Zone “Nothing in the Dark” is one of the great ones – he gained some fame opposite Jane Fonda in Barefoot in the Park in 1967.… Read the rest

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How things went and how things are gonna go

September 2, 2015
How things went and how things are gonna go

A few times a year, the movie slate is really bad.
This is one of those weeks, so that’s when the Movie Man takes the time to review his summer film predictions and map out the rest of the year.

Summer guesses
There’s always a hit that comes out of left field.
And there’s a sure-fire thing that misses.
Here’s how the Movie Man guessed what the top 10 movies of the summer of 2015 would be:
10. Pixels (MM #1150, 6)
9. Ant-Man (MM #1149, 7)
8. Tomorrowland (MM #1144, 5)
7. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (MM #1158, 8)
6.… Read the rest

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Game adaptations take another Hit, man

August 26, 2015
Game adaptations take another Hit, man

The Movie Man did not know Hitman: Agent 47 was based on a video game.
Cinematic history says video games do not make good movies – in fact, one of the worst movies ever made was 1993’s Super Mario Bros. (Movie Man No. 2 [yes, 2!] a 2, Worst of Year – and that’s the case with Hitman: Agent 47.

About the film
The summer film glut is officially over. This week’s choices were paltry, so the Movie Man settled into Hitman: Agent 47.
Gamers always long for their beloved favorites to become hit movies. It almost never happens.
Rare exceptions include Tomb Raider (2001, MM #409, 5) and its sequel Cradle of Life (2003, MM #519, 5) and the seemingly endless string of Resident Evil movies.… Read the rest

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Compton: Straight Outta the gate to No. 1

August 19, 2015
Compton: Straight Outta the gate to No. 1

It looks like the Movie Man made the right choice by going to see Straight Outta Compton over The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
The former exploded box office analysts’ expectations while the latter tanked.

About the film
At its base, Straight Outta Compton is just another rags to riches, musical biography, an example of record executives taking advantage of a band with something new.
But there was more with NWA (N-words With Attitude). They were saying things in music that had never been recorded before. And that scared a lot of people at the time – and still does today.
Dr. Dre, a group member who is now a billionaire, called the daring approach that became gangster rap “reality rap,” and its rawness and vulgarity – not to mention its flagrant disdain for authority – made them conservative pariahs.… Read the rest

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Fantastic Four reboot anything but fantastic

August 12, 2015
Fantastic Four reboot anything but fantastic

Oh, my, the advance buzz was right about the Fantastic Four. While the Movie Man had some hope based on previews, negative rumblings began months ago – and, boy howdy, were they right.

About the film
Sometimes it takes a while to get a superhero movie right.
The Hulk went through a few efforts before studios finally figured it out.
The Movie Man liked the 2003 version directed by Ang Lee with Eric Bana as Bruce Banner (Movie Man No. 513, a 7); however, fanboys hated it. (That movie, by the way, is on the books as one of the movies that made one of the greatest drops in its second week of release, 69.7 percent.)
Another attempt was pretty good, too, the Movie Man thought.… Read the rest

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Seems Impossible but Rogue Nation best M:I yet

August 5, 2015
Seems Impossible but Rogue Nation best M:I yet

Say what you want about Tom Cruise – his private life might not be too impressive but his film career sure is. Cruise is a movie star.

About the film
Every Mission: Impossible movie has been mostly good, a claim that almost no series can make.
The first M:I movie came out in 1996, directed by crazy maverick Brian (I love long tracking shots) De Palma. It was good (Movie Man No. 129, 7) if kinda muddled. It made a whopping $181 million in America – that of course means sequel city.
In 2000, Mission: Impossible II, directed by action specialist John Woo, did even better at the box office with $215.4 million.… Read the rest

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Pixels doesn’t one up Sandler’s film reputation

July 29, 2015
Pixels doesn’t one up Sandler’s film reputation

Critics are tearing apart the latest Adam Sandler movie; Pixels, despite a cool premise, could not even win the week.
Pundits wonder if the end has arrived the Sandler who has not had a Sandler-esque hit in years.

About the film
Despite what you might hear, it’s possible to see a decent Sandler movie.
Billy Madison (1995) was funny and so was Happy Gilmore (1996). The Wedding Singer (1998, Movie Man No. 221, a 5) had its moments. The Movie Man liked 50 First Dates (2004, MM #547, 6) okay as well as Hotel Transylvania (2012, MM #1002, 6).
Critics (not the Movie Man) have lauded a couple of his serious efforts, especially Punch-Drunk Love (2002 – the Movie Man skipped it [as he does with many Sandler movies even though he’s not a Sandler hater] for The Santa Clause 2 [MM #481, 5]).… Read the rest

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Ant-Man tunnels its way into Marvel pantheon

July 22, 2015
Ant-Man tunnels its way into Marvel pantheon

Marvel Comics has mined its catalogue for its most popular heroes: Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, X-Men, and the Avengers all have made a ton of cash. (It looks like the upcoming FF is going to be much better than its predecessors.)
Iron Man (2008, Movie Man No. 771, an 8, Best of Year) – still the top Marvel movie for the Movie Man – was a second tier character, much like this week’s Ant-Man.

About the film (spoiler)
Comic nerds know that Ant-Man was actually an original Avenger. And it was super scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) – the original Ant-Man – who created Ultron, the villain in the current Avengers’ hit, not Tony Stark.… Read the rest

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