Friday, September 5, 2014

Movie Preview: September 2014

The summer season in Hollywood officially over. August is usually the weakest month of the summer, but thanks to Guardians of the Galaxy and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, this August was actually the second best summer month of 2014 and it also became the first August ever to top $1 billion. However, the fact that the two previously mentioned movies were in the top two for their entire August runs shows that the rest of the August releases followed the typical August trends. And now moviegoers don't even need to look at the Calendar to know what month it is. September is historically the worst month for the movie box office and this September should be no different. There's no movie on the schedule that screams huge box office success. But that doesn't mean that there are no hidden gems. Sure, there may be no huge blockbusters, but there is still plenty to talk about, especially since this is the month where the Oscar-hopefuls start sneaking in. So let's jump right in!

September 5th - 7th-

It's impressive to note that in it's sixth weekend of release, Guardians of the Galaxy will once again be taking home the box office crown. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles celebrated at top for two weeks, but after that, the crown went straight back to Guardians and now this first weekend of September will be its fourth title. What was considered one of Marvel's most riskiest projects for several reasons has payed out huge dividends. Not only is it the highest grossing movie of the year so far and one of Marvel's highest reviewed movies, but it also has the chance to end up as Marvel's highest grossing non-sequel (excluding The Avengers) in their Marvel Cinematic Universe. And that is why Marvel rules the superhero movie business right now. Oh yes, there is a movie actually coming out this weekend. It's called The Identical and if you haven't heard of it that's because the marketing for the movie has been almost non-existent. Adding to that, early reviews are at rock bottom (8% on Rotten Tomatoes and 4.7 on IMDb), so there's a good chance that this will enter and leave theaters without most people realizing it ever existed. The movie itself is a Christian musical drama about two identical twins that were separated at birth during the great depression. And no, despite what it looks like, this is not a biopic of Elvis. It just looks like it.

September 12th - 14th-

Finally after over a month at the top two spots, the tandem of Guardians of the Galaxy and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be finally be dethroned this weekend. Although admittedly, the fact that they have ruled for so long has less to do with their dominance and more to do with the fact that the competition has been completely non-existent. Movies like The Expendables 3 and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For should've ruled, but fell flat on their faces. The culprit that will finally take over? A movie about dolphins. Yep, Dolphin Tale 2. This is a curious sequel actually. Dolphin Tale was a surprise hit back in September of 2011. It was the inspirational true story of Winter the dolphin whose life was saved by a young teenage boy. These types of movies usually don't lend themselves to sequels, but they found a way. This is the next part of the true story. The aquarium is in trouble of losing Winter if he is not paired with a female dolphin within 30 days. The original cast is back and that of course includes the ever so popular Morgan Freeman.

Challenging the family-affair dolphin movie will be the first of quite a few thrillers throughout September and October, and that is No Good Deed. In this, Idris Elba plays an escaped convict who pays a visit to a young mother simply asking to use her phone. She of course falls for this and pretty soon is fighting for her life. Moral of the story: don't let crazy, strange men into your home when it's dark and rainy outside. Now last September the movie Prisoners came out of nowhere to be one of the best reviewed films of the year. In theory, this movie could turn out like that. Or it might just be ignored.

I mentioned that September is the month that Oscar hopefuls start sneaking into theaters. The first of these that I will mention is The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby. This is a very unique style of movie because it is actually three movies. This is a love story where the first movie is told from her prospective and the second is told from his prospective. The third combines the two movies into a movie that shows both perspectives. That third movie is the one getting a limited release on this weekend, while the other two will come later. Keep tabs on Jessica Chastain from this movie who is one of the strong early contenders for a best actress nomination. James McAvoy could be in the conversation on the best actor side of things, but that will be so competitive that he will probably be forgotten about.

The other limited release of the weekend also getting strong early buzz is The Skeleton Twins. Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader will both have their names in the Oscar conversations because of this movie. They play twins who are reunited after ten years of not speaking to each other. They come to learn that they key to fixing their lives just might be to fix their relationship.

September 19th - 21st-

The young adult book adaptations are definitely a dime a dozen these days. Hollywood keeps looking for the next book series that will score huge on the big screen, the most recent success coming with Divergent. However, for every Divergent or Hunger Games, there seems to be at least two or three failed attempts. Movies like The Giver from just a few weeks ago; Vampire Academy from earlier this year; or Mortal Instruments, The Host and Beautiful Creatures from last year are examples of these failed attempts. The Maze Runner is Hollywood's next attempt at a big young adult book adaptation and the fact that it is being released in the middle of September doesn't exude a whole bunch of confidence in this attempt and so it is more likely to fall among the later failures rather than shine like Divergent or The Hunger Games. However, it may not fall as hard as some because the premise seems unique and interesting enough to attract at least some sort of crowd. In this you have a boy who gets his memory erased and is deposited in a Maze with a bunch of other boys where they have to team up to escape. These seems more like an I Am Number Four type of success to me. Not an utter failure, but an adaption that has average success in a low-grossing month.

Liam Neeson in an action movie that involves a kidnapping? Most people will take one glance at A Walk Among the Tombstones and immediately think of Taken. That's probably not the best comparison, though. In this, Liam Neeson plays a private investigator who is hired by a man to figure out who kidnapped and murdered his wife. If a Liam Neeson movie comparison needs to be made, this seems much more like this year's Non-Stop because it is more mystery oriented and less action oriented. However, I'm going to pull away from both and say that it sounds more like last year's Prisoners. Both movies are crime dramas released on the third weekend of September that have to do with a kidnapping. Just like I said earlier with No Good Deed, I don't know if the reaction to this will be as strong as Prisoners, but the comparison seems logical. If anything, A Walk Among the Tombstones seems like the more likely of the two to break out due to the star power of Liam Neeson. The man has done a pretty good job of transitioning into an action star later in his career and is also still popular due to his roles in huge movies such as Batman Begins and Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace.

The previous weekend I talked about four movies. However, two of them were limited release movies. This weekend I will also talk about four movies, but this time all four are wide releases, making this the busiest weekend of the month in terms of number of wide releases. Movie number three is the upcoming comedy This is Where I Leave You. It has quite the cast as it stars Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Rose Byrn, Cory Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Conne Britton, Timothy Olyphant, Dax Shepard and Jane Fonda. The movie is about a family who gets reunited with the death of their father. The four adult siblings are forced by their mom to live under the same roof for a whole week along with all their spouses and others. This could provide some decent counter-programming for those who would rather see a comedy than another young adult film adaption or a Liam Neeson crime drama.

Last and probably least is the horror movie Tusk. From writer, director and podcaster Kevin Smith, we get a story of a man who is captured by a crazy man and is physically and mentally tortured into becoming a... wait for it... walrus! Yup, you heard that right. A horror film where a man is being forced to become a walrus. Now horror fans often will show in up droves to horror movies that some thought were going to be ignored, so it's hard to predict horror movies, but it seems like horror fans will choose to wait until October to show up where there are several options that seem perfect for Halloween. But you never know.

September 26th - 28th-

Just like Liam Neeson, Denzel Washington has had quite the prolific and successful career that has seen him transition into him being quite the popular action star. Also like Neeson, Denzel has been quite the box office draw as in the last ten years, only one of his movies has opened below $20 million. Both these trends should continue this weekend with The Equalizer. It's a Denzel Washington action movie that should have no problem being the most popular movie choice of the weekend. As the title suggest, Denzel considers himself the equalizer, meaning this is essentially a vigilante movie. He has retired from his former life as a black ops commando and intends on living a quiet life when he decides to come out of retirement to save a young girl, played by Chloe Grace Moretz, and soon finds himself face to face with some Russian gangsters. In addition to the typical Denzel fan club, those interested in a high-powered action thriller are sure to show up.

Finally we have yet another Oscar contender as our final movie of September. This one comes in the form of animation with The Boxtrolls. Back in 2012 Academy Awards, the world was surprised when not one, not two, but three stop motion animation movies got best animated feature nominations. ParaNorman and Frankenweenie were thought to get nominations, but no one expected The Pirates! Band of Misfits to also get a nomination. This showed that the Academy has a lot of respect for the stop motion brand of animation and thus The Boxtrolls has been an early favorite to get a nomination for quite some time. The first trailer for this movie actually came out quite some time ago and focused specifically on showing the immense level of talent and time that it takes to make a full feature length movie all from clay figures. Further trailers have shown an actual story, which is about an orphan boy that was raised by these boxtrolls. Laika is the animation studio doing this movie and they have a pretty good track record as the other stop motion movies they have done are Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, Coraline, and the previously mentioned ParaNorman.

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