Outcast: 'A Darkness Surrounds Him' Review

Robert Kirkman's latest show gets off to a flawed start.

Confirmed: John Boyega to Star in 'Pacific Rim 2'

Boyega joins the sequel hot off the success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Box Office: Ninja Turtles 2 Suffers in Anti-Sequel Summer

TMNT 2 is the latest sequel to bring in some disappointing numbers.

Review: Eye in the Sky

Gavin Hood's military drama is an impressive achievement.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Thoughts on John Campea's Deleted Ben-Hur Review

This article contains spoilers for both the 1959 and 2016 Ben-Hur movies.

Yesterday, film critic and reporter John Campea uploaded his review of this week's Ben-Hur remake to his self-titled YouTube channel. Intrigued to see how the film was faring with critics, I was one of the many who clicked on the review and was left subsequently puzzled.

Campea had some positive remarks for the Ben-Hur remake, but ultimately gave the film a negative review largely due to how it ended. The critic took issue with how the sister and mother of main protagonist Judah Ben-Hur -- Miriam and Tirzah -- were miraculously cured of their leprosy after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, particularly as he claimed that this did not happen in the 1959 Ben-Hur movie (the most famous of this story's many adaptations).

This was immediately confusing to me as having watched the Charlton Heston Ben-Hur movie only last year, I remember quite clearly that this did indeed happen in that adaptation of the story, while Jesus cured the two women in a similar fashion in Lew Wallace's original novel from 1880. I wasn't the only one to recall this detail of the iconic story, and soon the comments section of the review was filling up with people pointing out Campea's error.

What was most confusing to me about this situation was that throughout his review Campea spoke as someone who had seen the 1959 cinematic landmark, at one point even imploring his viewers to seek it out themselves if they haven't already. Yet if he had actually seen the three and a half hour epic, wouldn't he have remembered one of the most pivotal scenes in its closing act?

The only other option is that Campea saw the film so long ago that he had forgotten how it ended, but I don't believe that excuses this behaviour. 

If he was pretending he had seen the original film in order to boost the credibility of his opinion on the matter, then that is very deceitful of him. If he hadn't seen the film in so long that he'd forgotten how it ended, he should have refreshed his memory either by watching it again or by simply reading through the Wikipedia plot synopsis, before using a non-existent change as a major criticism of the remake. The fact he chose not to I feel was inexcusably lazy for one of YouTube's most prominent film critics.

Whatever the reality of the situation, the review has since been taken down which seems to suggest Campea is aware of the error he made. 

This video frustrated me personally as it was such a large mistake that was so easily avoidable, and it's a kind of sloppiness that would only be deemed excusable on YouTube. As much as I enjoy the thriving film criticism community on the video-sharing site, it is in situations like these where you see quite vividly where it falters in comparison to more traditional film reviews from outlets such as the Guardian or the BBC. Such major mistakes from paid film critics would not be accepted on those sites, which makes me wonder why we're more willing to accept them from paid film critics on YouTube?

This is not intended as an attack on John Campea, I'm sure he works very hard to produce as much content as he can. I just feel that mistakes like these shouldn't be brushed off, as all they do is make YouTube seem less credible than other film criticism sites, and that could cause long-term problems.

Friday, 12 August 2016

TEN Film and Television Awards 2016: The Winners

It's finally here! Long overdue, the winners of The Entertainment Network Film and Television Awards 2016 have been announced, although the previously planned video ceremony has been cancelled. These are sad times indeed.

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

Winner: Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina)
Colin Firth (Kingsman: The Secret Service)
Harrison Ford (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Jason Statham (Spy)
Michael Pena (Ant-Man)
Michael Shannon (99 Homes)

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

Winner: Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina)
Jessica Chastain (Crimson Peak)
Rachel Weisz (The Lobster)
Rebecca Hall (The Gift)
Rose Byrne (Spy)
Scarlett Johannson (Avengers: Age of Ultron)

Best Lead Actor in a Motion Picture

Winner: Andrew Garfield (99 Homes)
Domhnall Gleeson (Ex Machina)
Jason Bateman (The Gift)
John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Matt Damon (The Martian)
Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service)

Best Lead Actress in a Motion Picture

Winner: Emily Blunt (Sicario)
Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Maika Monroe (It Follows)
Melissa McCarthy (Spy)
Mia Wasikowska (Crimson Peak)

Best Director

Winner: George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Alex Garland (Ex Machina)
Denis Villeneuve (Sicario)
Guillermo Del Toro (Crimson Peak)
Matthew Vaughn (Kingsman: The Secret Service)
Ramin Bahrani (99 Homes)

Best Picture

Winner: Ex Machina
99 Homes
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Mad Max: Fury Road
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Martian


Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series

Winner: Vincent D'Onofrio (Daredevil)
Aaron Paul (Bojack Horseman)
Bokeem Woodbine (Fargo)
Carlos Valdes (The Flash)
David Tennant (Jessica Jones)
Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)

Best Supporting Actress in a Television Series

Winner: Yael Grobglas (Jane the Virgin)
Carol Kane (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)
Jamie Lee Curtis (Scream Queens)
Jean Smart (Fargo)
Niecy Nash (Scream Queens)
Rosario Dawson (Daredevil)

Best Lead Actor in a Television Series

Winner: Patrick Wilson (Fargo)
Aziz Ansari (Master of None)
Charlie Cox (Daredevil)
Jesse Plemons (Fargo)
Terrence Howard (Empire)
Will Arnett (Bojack Horseman)

Best Lead Actress in a Television Series

Winner: Kirsten Dunst (Fargo)
Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)
Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin)
Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter)
Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones)
Taraji P. Henson (Empire)

Best Television Series

Winner: Fargo
Bojack Horseman
Jane the Virgin
Jessica Jones
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Box Office: 'Nine Lives' is Dead on Arrival

Yesterday we discussed Suicide Squad's impressive opening weekend, and our projections for next week's box office results. Now though, it's time to take a closer look at the older films that aren't making so many headlines, but are still kicking around in the top ten.

For starters, there's Jason Bourne; the Matt Damon franchise revival opened relatively strong last week with just shy of $60 million, the second highest debut for this franchise just behind 2008's Bourne Ultimatum. Unfortunately, the story isn't quite so positive going into week two, as the release of Suicide Squad almost certainly took the wind out of Bourne's sails. The film suffered a 61% drop pulling in a little over $20 million in its sophomore weekend, not a  disaster by any means but perhaps an indication that this film won't have the legs of last year's Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.

While you could put this down to Bourne's lukewarm critical reception, this is a recurring theme that has haunted the entire summer movie season this year thus far. WIth a new tentpole blockbuster hitting theaters almost every weekend, few films have been able to find their footing before losing the attention of movie-goers; Suicide Squad cannibalized Jason Bourne, just as Jason Bourne cannibalized Star Trek Beyond one week prior.

As we discussed yesterday, Suicide Squad seems to be one of the only films that will prove an exception to the rule. The film has relatively little competition on the horizon, and that should put it in the best position possible to hold steady in the face of bad reviews -- something March's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was not able to do.

One film that has been holding remarkably well is Mila Kunis comedy Bad Moms, which managed to hold its number three position following its solid debut last weekend. Falling just 41%, the $20 million picture now boasts a domestic haul of over $50 million. This is a real boost for Kunis who seemed to have lost some of her star power following the one-two punch of critical and commercial flop Jupiter Ascending and her surprising replacement in Seth MacFarlane's Ted 2 (although that can be seen as Kunis dodging a bullet, depending on how you look at it). Bad Moms can also be seen as a win for newbie distributor STX Entertainment, this being their highest grossing film to date by a significant margin (their previous record holder being Joel Edgerton's The Gift which reached $43 million domestic late last year).

Also holding well is Illumination Entertainment's animated offering The Secret Life of Pets, which is now up to a domestic total of nearly $320 million from a relatively small $75 million budget. A sequel to the film has recently been greenlit, giving the fairly young animation studio a third successful franchise after the Despicable Me and Dr. Seuss movies.

If the stories of Bad Moms and The Secret Life of Pets are evidence of anything, it's that keeping your budget reasonably low is in most cases a wise thing to do; this is a lesson those behind the latest Star Trek film should have learned sooner. Indeed, in spite of the fact that 2013's Star Trek Into Darkness was something of a financial under-performer, Paramount chose to invest a similarly colossal budget into the franchise's third entry: $185 million. After opening with the lowest debut to date since this rebooted series began, Beyond has seen its takings drop alarmingly quickly over the last two weeks. At this point its domestic total is unlikely to get above the $150 million mark, and worlwide the film is only at about $195 million.

If Into Darkness' disappointing performance wasn't enough for Paramount to reassess their investment in this franchise, this surely will be. At this point it wouldn't be surprising if the previously announced fourth entry in the franchise (which would see the return of Chris Hemsworth in a much larger role) was scrapped entirely, at the very least you can expect the film to be significantly cheaper than its precursors.

Bizarrely positioned against DC's juggernaut Suicide Squad movie was Europa Corp's utterly ridiculous Nine Lives, starring Kevin Spacey as a man who swaps bodies with his house cat. The first trailer was met with bewilderment and some outright disbelief by the people of the Internet a few months back, and after all hopes of the film achieving "so bad it's good" status were extinguished last week it's unsurprising that the feature failed to find an audience.

Debuting at number six with a minuscule haul of $6.2 million, the only comforting part of this whole situation is that at least the film won't be a hugely expensive flop with a budget of just $30 million -- which still seems surprisingly high in this reporter's opinion. In a world where the likes of The Secret Life of Pets and Finding Dory are currently in theaters, you can't blame most families for passing on Nine Lives. Europa Corp. should have seen this coming and pulled the plug on this picture before the cameras even started rolling.

The James Wan-produced micro-budget horror film Lights Out continues to impress, now holding a domestic total of $54 million from a budget of just under five. Less impressive are the three films rounding out the top ten, starting with the Emma Roberts/Dave Franco thriller Nerve which dropped 48.5% in week two sending it down to number eight. This isn't a terrible hold but as the film didn't open with very much to begin with it seems to paint a fairly dismal picture for the feature going forward.

Ghostbusters is next up at number nine, now heading into the closing weeks of its theatrical run the film has only managed to make $116 million domestically, with a worldwide total of $180 million. This is not a good sign for what was intended to be a new series of films, with director Paul Feig having said some weeks ago that the film would have to make it to $500 million to get a sequel. That isn't going to happen. Where the franchise goes from here is tough to call, with a direct follow-up to this reboot seemingly unlikely.

Finally, Ice Age: Collision Course is at number ten. The film's domestic box office numbers have been meager, but this is a franchise which for many years now has relied on overseas audiences to keep itself afloat. With just $54 million racked up in the States, the film is up to $288 million worldwide thanks to those foreign box office numbers, but still it's looking to be one of the weakest entries in the long-running series to date.

Here's the top ten in full:

1. (-) Suicide Squad - $135 million
2. (1) Jason Bourne - $22.7 million
3. (3) Bad Moms - $14.2 million
4. (4) The Secret Life of Pets - $11.5 million
5. (2) Star Trek Beyond - $10.2 million
6. (-) Nine Lives - $6.5 million
7. (6) Lights Out - $6 million
8. (8) Nerve - $4.9 million
9. (7) Ghostbusters - $4.8 million
10. (5) Ice Age: Collision Course - $4.3 million

Monday, 8 August 2016

Box Office: Suicide Squad Brings New Meaning to 'Squad Goals'

A barrage of bad reviews simply wasn't enough to slow the momentum of Suicide Squad going into its opening weekend, where the film performed as projected bringing in $135 million over the weekend and breaking several records in the process. The DC Comics adaptation can boast not only having the largest August opening day to date ($62.5 million), but also the largest August opening weekend of all time dwarfing Guardians of the Galaxy's $94 million from 2014.

There was never really any doubt that Suicide Squad would open big, but what these reviews have called into question is the film's long-term performance. No matter what your personal opinion of the film is, there's no denying that Batman v Superman's critical reception did impact its box office takings, and can be considered at least partly responsible for the film's hefty 69.1% second week drop. That film ultimately went on to gross $872 million worldwide, a figure which Warner Bros. saw as disappointing. This isn't hugely surprising when you consider that the combined cost of Batman v Superman's production and marketing was a colossal $415 million, and film studios usually only see about half of a film's box office gross returned to them (in this case that would be about $436 million).

It's hard to say for sure whether Suicide Squad will suffer the same rapid decline as BvS, but at this point it seems like there's a solid chance. Some analysts are expecting Suicide Squad to drop by about 67% next weekend, a slightly better hold than DC's previous feature although BvS did open higher so perhaps that's an unfair comparison.

One thing that Suicide Squad does have in its favour is a relative lack of competition. The widest release next weekend is Disney's Pete's Dragon remake which seems to have a general lack of buzz surrounding it. The Mouse House has had a lot of success with previous live-action remakes Cinderella and The Jungle Book, but at this rate Pete's Dragon is unlikely to perform on those levels. I would predict a debut between $30 and $35 million, performing more in line with the likes of Alice Through the Looking Glass and TMNT: Out of the Shadows than those bigger Disney juggernauts. However, even if the film was to open higher it doesn't seem to share an audience with Suicide Squad and the two could still conceivably co-exist.

Animated comedy Sausage Party could eat into more of the Squad's target audience, but the film's R rating should keep it from overtaking the DC flick. At this point, it's difficult to predict whether Sausage Party will perform on the level of recent Seth Rogen comedies This Is The End and Neighbours 2 (both of which opened with around $20 million), or if it can wrangle in a greater audience with its unique premise in the same way Seth McFarlane's Ted did back in 2012 (which opened with over $50 million). I'd say its most likely to fall somewhere in between, but land closer to a Rogen debut (especially considering Ted 2's under-performance seems to suggest audiences only have so much time for these kinds of comedies).

Meryl Streep biopic Florence Foster Jenkins also opens next week, but with a smaller theater count could struggle to make an impact. A performance on-par with last summer's Ricki and the Flash seems a reasonable expectation, that would give Jenkins a debut between $5 and $8 million.

We'll have more box office coverage coming later today, in the meantime here's the top ten in full:

1. (-) Suicide Squad - $135 million
2. (1) Jason Bourne - $22.7 million
3. (3) Bad Moms - $14.2 million
4. (4) The Secret Life of Pets - $11.5 million
5. (2) Star Trek Beyond - $10.2 million
6. (-) Nine Lives - $6.5 million
7. (6) Lights Out - $6 million
8. (8) Nerve - $4.9 million
9. (7) Ghostbusters - $4.8 million
10. (5) Ice Age: Collision Course - $4.3 million

And here's our final predictions for next week's chart:

1. Suicide Squad - $50 million
2. Pete's Dragon - $33 million
3. Sausage Party - $28 million
4. Jason Bourne - $12 million
5. Bad Moms - $9 million

Outside of the top five, we're predicting a $6 million debut for Florence Foster Jenkins. Be sure to come back next week to see how our predictions compare to the real results!