Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Movie Preview: November 2015

The Halloween season is now over now it's time for the official Hollywood holiday season to begin! This Halloween season was pretty decent. Hotel Transylvania 2 and Goosebumps were our Halloween-themed movies that dominated the month. Crimson Peak tried to join that club, but wasn't quite as popular as the other two. As far as non-Halloween themed movies, everyone all went to Mars with Matt Damon as The Martian was the king of the box office during the month, winning the box office crown for four of the five weekends and earning a very strong $179 million during the month. The other huge thing that happened was the arrival of the official trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. As if Star Wars fever wasn't high enough already, this increased it to astronomical levels. The trailer was viewed over 100 million times in the first 24 hours and ticket sites crashed with such heavy traffic. If you haven't bought your ticket yet, it might actually be too late at this point if you want to get in on opening night. That's how high Star Wars fever is. In fact, many people have forgotten or simply don't care that there is a whole lineup of movies in the month before Star Wars. But we're here to talk about that because there are some pretty big titles, so let's begin!

November 6th - 8th-

First up is the 24th film in the long-running, extremely popular James Bond franchise. This one is called Spectre. The James Bond franchise is the type of franchise that every action franchise wants to be, but is never able to replicate. Several new action/spy movies this summer advertised themselves by using the tagline "better than Bond." That didn't work. No one beats Bond. Not in terms of success, anyways. The franchise started back in 1963 with Dr. No. The fourth Bond movie, Thunderball, made an incredible $63.5 million in 1965. When adjusted for ticket price inflation, that is the equivalent of $623 million, which is right on par with the numbers The Avengers put up in 2012. No Bond movie has sold quite that many tickets, but they've put up consistently good numbers for the last 50 years. Three years ago, Skyfall took things to the next level by being the first Bond to reach $1 billion worldwide and $300 million in U.S. That's not as much as Thunderball or Goldfinger when adjusted for ticket price inflation, but it is good enough for third place, which is impressive. Spectre brings back director Sam Mendes and Bond star Daniel Craig for possibly one final go at it before switching things up again. Thus they will be looking to add to the success of Skyfall both financially and critically and by the looks of things, they're going to achieve that success.

James Bond isn't the only big name making a return to theaters this weekend. Charlie Brown and Snoopy return to theaters with The Peanuts Movie. The animation studio that is bringing them back is Blue Sky, the animation studio that brought you the Ice Age and Rio movies. They've been trying their darndest to make sure that no one forgets that they are doing this project. The first teaser trailer for this movie was released nearly two whole years ago and their marketing campaign has been going strong ever since. Wondering why everyone on social media turned themselves into Peanuts characters recently? Yup. That was them as well. That aspect was pretty smart if you ask me. Early reviews suggest that this will be a well received animated movie, but regardless of what critics say, this will be a popular choice among family audiences throughout November. There's enough space between this and The Good Dinosaur that will allow both to have a healthy run.

November 13th - 15th-

Five years ago I remember on the news a very publicized story of 33 miners being trapped for quite some time down in a mine. Their story is now being told on the big screen via the movie The 33. If I am not mistaken, this was a Chilean mine down in South America and the miners were trapped for 69 days. The amazing part of this story is that all of them made it out alive. This was shocking, yet fantastic news for everyone around the world who was following this. Yes, technically I just gave away the ending, but this is the type of movie where you go into knowing exactly how it will end, yet you are interested in watching how this all turns out. In a way, it reminds me of the movie 127 Hours, where the guy gets his arm stuck under a rock in Southern Utah and ends up cutting it off so that he doesn't die. I remember hearing about that remarkable story on the news and then suddenly it became a movie, which was really intriguing. I don't know if The 33 will be an Oscar contender like 127 Hours was, but those who remember this story will be interested in checking it out on the big screen.

Arriving a bit early in the holiday season is the Christmas comedy Love the Coopers. Now I do say this is a bit early for Christmas, but knowing what's coming out around Christmas, this was probably the best date for this movie. The story here is nothing new. We have four generations of Coopers coming together for their annual Christmas party and the family is a bit of a dysfunctional family. I'm sure there will be some message about the Christmas spirit and coming together as a family, but that's just a guess. My gut here is that this doesn't seem like the movie that is going to connect with audiences or stand out among the crowd, but if it surprises it will be because of the ginormous cast. Starring in the movie is Olivia Wilde, Amanda Seyfried, Anthony Mackie, John Goodman, Diane Keaton, Alan Arkin, Ed Helms, Jake Lacy, June Squibb, and Marisa Tomei. Giant cast doesn't always equate to success, but it certainly can't hurt.

Finally we have the football drama My All American. This is a movie that seems to be flying in under the radar. Unless you are a fan of ESPN, of course. They've been smartly advertising this one on ESPN for quite some time now in hopes to attract sports fans to the theaters. They've also been heavily advertising that this is a movie that is written by the same guy who wrote Rudy and Hoosiers, both of which you could probably call cult classics. Neither made a ton of money in theaters, but when you ask a fan of sports movies which are the best sports movies, there's a good chance that those two movies come up, so that's a smart connection. My All American looks like your typical underdog story. A guy is deemed to small to play football, but through a lot of hard work manages to make it onto the Texas Longhorns football team, where he runs into even more challenges. It's tough to predict exactly how a movie like this is going to turn out. Sports movies are seen as inspirational plenty of times, but there's been so many of them that it's often hard to stick out among the crowd.

November 20th - 22nd-

There's already been a few movie events this year and before the big one in December, we get another movie event right before Thanksgiving with the finale of the Hunger Games franchise: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2. Every since the emergence of Harry Potter and Twilight, Hollywood has always been searching for the next big young adult book franchise to adapt to the big screen and they scored huge with The Hunger Games. In fact, both the first two movies outgrossed every movie from the Harry Potter and Twilight franchises here in the United States. Mockingjay Part 1 was down a bit, but such has always been the case with the first part of a two part finale, so this finale should recover. As far as the franchise as a whole, it was almost a consensus among fans of the books that the first two books were good. That wasn't the case with the final book, however. A lot of fans didn't like how Mockingjay ended, so it'll be interesting to see if that translates into the movie as well. One thing for sure is that out of the two parts of Mockingjay, this is definitely the more action-packed half. Much of the first half of the book was setup for the epic finale, thus is why fans were confused as to why they were splitting this into two movies. That also explains why the reviews for Part 1 were a lot worse than the first two movies. If you haven't read the books and were bored with Part 1, prepare for a non-stop adventure this time around with Part 2.

Thanksgiving is a good time to release a Christmas movie because that gives people the entire month of December to see it if it catches on with audiences. This holiday season we get two very non-traditional Christmas movies. Coming in early December is the Christmas horror movie Krampus and coming this week is the raunchy comedy The Night Before. This is from the people who made This is the End and Neighbors and stars Seth Rogan, who was in both of those movies as well as plenty of other raunchy comedies, so you can call him a raunchy comedy veteran that is pretty good at attracting audiences just with his presence. Joining him in this outing is Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie. The three of them play a group of friends who have a tradition of partying it up on Christmas Eve. Since this may be their last Christmas Eve together, they are looking to party harder than ever before, so you can guess the types of things that will happen here. This genre has a pretty big fan base and the unique Christmas theme should help it play well throughout the holiday season.

Last up is the thriller Secret in their Eyes. If this title sounds familiar to you, it is because this is a remake of a foreign film of the same English title back in just 2009. That movie won best foreign film at the Oscars and currently holds a place on the IMDb top 250. Because us Americans aren't satisfied with just enjoying a foreign film, this one hailing from Argentina, we had to do an American remake. Those who know the original from just six years ago will probably roll their eyes at this and skip it. Those who don't know the original might just say it looks like your typical crime drama and choose to see something else instead. The story is about a group of crime investigators who are devastated when they find the daughter of someone from their group has been murdered and they are out to find the killer. This does hail an impressive cast with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman, and Julia Roberts leading the way. Director Billy Ray has also had his share of success writing the screenplay for movies such The Hunger Games, Captain Phillips, and Shattered Glass. So there is some hope here, but overall it isn't looking like a holiday winner.

November 25th - 29th- 

Following what will be a successful pre-Thanksgiving weekend is another handful of movies joining the market for the actual weekend of Thanksgiving. All three of these wide releases will be opening the day before Thanksgiving, which is Wednesday the 25th. The past two Thanksgivings have been dominated by the second weekend of the various Hunger Games movies. While Mockingjay Part 2 is sure to continue that trend, the one movie that will contend to actually take the crown is Pixar's The Good Dinosaur. For the first time in several years, Pixar went without a movie in 2014 and that's because of production issues from The Good Dinosaur. It was supposed to come out in May of 2014, but got pushed back to this date, giving Pixar two movies in one year for the first time in their 20 year history. Their first movie of the year, Inside Out, was a monster success and an instant Pixar classic as it ended up as the second highest grossing Pixar movie ever behind only Toy Story 3. Despite the production issues, The Good Dinosaur should be able to feed off this success, especially since Pixar has a great track record with original films. The premise of the movie toys with the idea of the dinosaurs never going extinct. What if the asteroid that wiped them out missed? People love dinosaurs and people love Pixar, so this seems like a perfect marriage. Very little competition throughout the holiday season for family audiences should make this have a fantastic run.

Continuing franchises has been a theme this month and that will continue with Creed, which is a spin-off of the Rocky franchise. Rocky was released in 1976 and was a huge success with critics and fans alike as it was nominated for 10 Oscars, winning three of them including the big prize of best picture. It also earned a huge $117 million at the box office, which is the equivalent of $459 million today when adjusted for ticket price inflation. This spawned four sequels with a young Rocky spanning from 1979 to 1990 as well as a sixth movie with an older Rocky in 2006 called Rocky Balboa, in which Rocky officially said that the beast has been silenced and he is done with fighting. No he's not coming back in the ring this time around. This movie follows the son of Rocky's former opponent and friend, Apollo Creed, who died in Rocky IV. Played by Michael B. Jordan, this son of Creed, named Adonis Johnson, approaches Rocky and asks him to be his trainer and mentor. This idea was initially met with a bit of skepticism, but the trailers impressed in a big way and now this is one of the most anticipated movies of the holiday season.

Forgetting that the holiday this week is in fact Thanksgiving and not Halloween is Victor Frankenstein. It's been a fairly common trend recently to take some classic Halloween stories and put a unique spin on them. It happened twice last year with I, Frankenstein and Dracula Untold. Neither of those was met with much praise, so we're going back to Frankenstein to see if the third time is the charm. In this movie, Victor Frankenstein is played by James McAvoy and Igor is played by Daniel Radcliffe. Before you get weirded out that Daniel is playing Frankenstein's monster, he's not. Igor is Frankenstein's assistant in this. Together they create a monster, which looks like just that. A monster. The human element of Frankenstein's monster seems missing in this version of the story, If it's their, the advertising is hiding it. Frankenstein does go crazy and it is up to his assistant Igor to try to save him. Had this come out during Halloween season I could've seen it making a bit of cash like Dracula Untold did despite the negative reaction. Not sure if it can do so in a crowded Thanksgiving/Christmas market, but we will see.

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