The hype is real and its existence is now fully justified. The seventh "Star Wars" film, subtitled "The Force Awakens", marks the return to its great form and gives a much needed esteem for the franchise, which were once also enjoyed by the original trilogy some four decades ago. And it is in the hands of the acclaimed director J.J. Abrams, co-writer Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt, where this movie springs to life and excitements, even if it means to stuff it all over again with "A New Hope". At least the disastrous prequel trilogy is now far behind us.
“The Scorch Trial” is the second instalment in the newly-minted “The Maze Runner” franchise that was successfully kick-started by the 20th Century Fox. As you may recall from last year, I wrote about how “The Maze Runner” was a genuine surprise and an atypical young adult (YA) adaptation that offered an exciting labyrinth escapism adventure. Fast forward to this year, “The Scorch Trial” is evidently having much bigger scopes than its predecessor – with a bigger world to run, bigger plots to chew, bigger cast, bigger set pieces and bigger questions to answer for. Sometimes being bigger does not necessarily means it has the ability to carry on the goodwill from the previous chapters. While this sequel maintains huge appetite for heart-stopping action around the dystopian world, it becomes apparent that the aftermath of the first film may just sound too familiar after all. The problem with most YA novels and their adaptations nowadays is their subject matter. It is hard to find one that does not involve rebellion against the order, or anything that sets in an apocalyptic nature, or anything with the antagonist grooming a mole amongst the protagonists.
The Terminator is back this weekend after an absence of six years with a brand new mission. After succumbing to the two distasteful installments (Rise of the Machine and Salvation), this new entree is aiming to terminate those two from our hard drive, by offering a semi-conscious reboot entitled Genisys. The execs at Paramount Pictures are hoping that Genisys will revitalize the franchise. In doing so, Genisys’ existence must have something to do with the growing tendency of Hollywood commissioning more and more reboots that deal with plot and timeline alterations. As we go into the weekend, it painted a grim picture as those bold hopes of rejuvenation will remain stagnant and in limbo as we just saw a low box office treat return and bad critical bashing all over the internet. Despite all the bashings, I am deeply saddened by the fact that Genisys should have deserved more credits than this. I guess this is another movie that I can put into the list of “I don’t get these high almighty critics”.
[UPDATED WITH OVERSEAS NUMBER]Call it the Christmas joy. The Box Office of North America generated a three-day gross of $210 million post-Christmas weekend, according to box office watcher Rentrak. That figure was up by 6.6% over the same period last year and catapulted 2014’s aggregate amount to more than $10 billion mark once again. Topping the chart once again was Warner Bros.’ The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies with $41.42 million, a drop of 24% from its opening week last week, for a total cume of $168.52 million in 12 days. It better The Desolation of Smaug’s number by more than 19.8% over the same period.
“The Theory of Everything” probes on the world famous theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, whose relationship with his ex-wife Jane, his physical deterioration and his stardom in the black hole study are the subjects of scrutiny. Directed by James Marsh (Man on Wire) with adaptation provided by Anthony McCarten from Jane Hawking’s memoir “Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen Hawking”, this film is essentially a biopic romantic drama that is told from the perspective of Jane Wilde Hawking. But despite the clichéness of romantic-based biopic that attempts to bait the Oscar in this timely season, “The Theory of Everything” is indeed, a well-made, well-acted and well-adjusted film about one fine science figure of the 20th century.
Last week, Sony pulled the plug on releasing their controversial North Korean comedy The Interview following a bad cyber attack and terrorist threat. It didn’t take the studio and distributor to find options to try to release the movie to the audiences. On the Christmas Day, The Interview was finally released in a very limited 331 theatres around the North America, while also releasing it over various streaming platforms like YouTube, Google Play and Xbox. The box office number is now in – The Interview garnered $1.04 million on its release day from 331 theatres, averaging a very good $3142 per theatre. The number was not shabby at all, considering the release mess and chaos we saw over the last few weeks, but Sony has yet to announce their future expansion plan for The Interview.
The Hobbit may have been an underwhelming franchise when it stands next to the great The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) trilogy, but I believe that there is still no one who is capable of tackling this better than Peter Jackson. The point is this movie could have been even worse than it is right now, but luckily it does not end up that well – a sigh of relief. The criticisms are still pretty much aim on the studio’s decision to split a children’s book down into three-part adventure, and while the previous two were nowhere near the kind of standard set by the LOTR. But there may be some shimmering hopes as this third and final chapter - The Battle of Five Armies as it offers a more entertaining, engrossing story closure and the epic battle that may justify the wait, albeit it comes a little too late.
Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is one of the most captivating, ambitious and honest movies of the year, and might as well being one of the best too. The unconventional style in Linklater’s latest project means that it was shot for a period of 12 years and only for a few days a year, using the same set of actors and with the scripts constantly improvised. Then, Linklater’s fame is not an overnight sensation, but is something that has been forged through countless years of excellent writings and directing, as evidently spoken from the “Before” trilogy, the crowd-pleasing School of Rock and the dark comedy Bernie. In his yet another brilliantly written work in Boyhood, we find ourselves warped in an eccentric yet genuine family-themed movie that explores the life of a young boy and his somewhat broken family over a span of 12 years.