Monday, June 13, 2016

Wknd Box Office: The Conjuring 2, Now You See Me 2, Warcraft,Weiner, Me Before You, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Here is an interesting article from reviewing some of the movies that came out over the past weekend. This follows this post about some of the movies from last week and THIS POST about some movies that have been released over the past few years that you might have missed! This all follows this post about guidelines to choosing good movies to watch yourself!

Wknd Box Office: The Conjuring 2, Now You See Me 2, Warcraft

By Debbie Schlussel

warcraftThe new choices in movies debuting in theaters today should tell you something about the quality of movies these days: two sequels of just okay (if that) movies and another one based on a video game. In other words, nothing to write home about.
* The Conjuring 2 – R: Obviously, this is a sequel to the original “The Conjuring” (read my review), but it’s not quite as scary. It’s also a sequel of sorts to “Anabelle” (read my review). Both movies involve the real-life couple, Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), who did exorcisms and tried to remove demons on behalf of the Catholic Church. (Ed Warren died in 2006, but his wife is still alive.) This movie is based on yet another of the Warrens’ real-life experiences in the exorcism biz.
At the beginning of the movie, Lorraine Warren has a series of visions and nightmares of a demon (which looks like a half-nun/half skeleton kind of figure). She also has visions of the demon killing her husband. It’s against that backdrop that the Warrens are once again recruited by a Catholic Church priest to help a family affected by the possession of a demon. This time, it’s in London, where a working class, single-mother household with four kids is facing some scary experiences. Many weird things start happening in the home, and the youngest daughter begins having visions of scary creatures, including and especially an old man, chasing her around the home. Soon, she becomes possessed. It turns out the old man died in the home years ago, and he won’t go away. But he’s a stand-in for a scarier familiar demon.
A few parts of the movie are very scary, but overall, I just didn’t find it that scary. Still, it was entertaining and there is nothing objectionable about it. I liked the way–as per Conjuring films–the religious and the faithful are portrayed with reverence. The Warrens take their Catholic faith seriously, and they are the heroes of the film, something you rarely see coming out of Hollywood. Also I liked that, as with other Conjuring films, the movie shows the real-life people (and they look similar to their actor counterparts) at the end of the movie, as credits roll.
The movie takes place in the ’70s, and once again, I love the close attention to detail in terms of ’70s wardrobe, cars, decor, and other accoutrements of the time. Farmiga is generally a good actress and Wilson does a workmanlike job. The movie mixes some humor in, unlike the other Conjuring films, so that’s a plus, and the movie is entertaining, though maybe not as much as previous Conjuring movies. However, it’s a little long and slow, clocking in at about two hours and 15 minutes. So, go to the bathroom beforehand.
* Now You See Me 2 – PG-13: This is basically the same thing as the original “Now You See Me” (read my review) only with a new actress in the chick role (Lizzy Caplan replaces Mrs. Sacha Baron Cohen a/k/a Isla Fisher). And I wasn’t that crazy about the original. In the original, a group of magician con artists do all kinds of tricks and stunts and rob from the rich to give to the poor. But they’re nothing but criminals, even if the movie doesn’t want you to think so and wants you to cheer them on instead.
And, as with the original, the villains are not these charlatan magicians. The villains are Hollywood’s stock evil rich businessmen. In the original, it was Michael Caine. In this one, Caine is eventually back, joined by Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe (who adds nothing and isn’t a good actor beyond the kids’ wizardry school). And here’s a tip: it ain’t double the pleasure or double the fun. I wonder if magician David Copperfield, who produced this movie, agrees with the evil businessman diatribe? If so, he should give back the millions he made with big shows in Vegas and on TV over the decades. But he won’t.
As with the original Now You See Me, a lot of magic tricks and stunts and a lot of the plot are confusing, cockamamie, contrived, and just downright preposterous. And, as with the original, the Horsemen, as the magicians are called, are on the run from the FBI. This time, though, Mark Ruffalo, as the agent investigating them, is also a double agent, quietly and secretly helping them, though he’s quickly discovered early on.
The original was something of a shaggy dog story with layers of an onion constantly unfolding. But this one is even more of a shaggy dog and the layers constantly unfolding are a confusing mess that seems kinda silly. A plot theme involving the mysterious “The Eye” organization, which instructs and helps protect the Horsemen, is somewhat misleading and not fully explained.
So, you see, they basically revomited the original movie with a few minor changes.
That said, the movie is still somewhat entertaining, if you need two hours to waste and have nothing else to do. It wasn’t objectionable other than the typical Hollywood anti-capitalist narrative. That is, if you find Woody Harrelson (playing two characters), Jesse Eisenberg, and Dave Franco entertaining. Also, I found the movie to be a little long, circuitous, and repetitive.
In this one, they trot out an “evil twin brother” character for Harrelson to play (who, with the wig he’s sporting, looks like Roger Clinton, bro-in-law of Hillary recently in the news for drunk driving), in addition to his Horseman role. And I have this “Doublemint Twins” theory of movies: when they gotta trot out an evil twin, you know the movie’s in trouble.
Watch the trailer . . .

* Warcraft – PG-13: I hated this. It was interminably long and boring. The “story” is stupid. And the computer-generated image (CGI) animation was awful and so obvious that it looked like 1980s’ technology was used. Constant orchestral music playing in the background didn’t help the movie get better. In fact, it made it worse. I couldn’t wait for this to end, but I felt like it had a zillion endings, then kept on going. Not that I expected anything good out of a movie based on a silly, formerly-popular (several years ago) video game. And it lived down to my expectations.
Oh, and another thing: Paula Patton is really a Z-list actress, which is why she’s in this . . . with tusks coming out of her mouth. Watching her try to make out with another character with those tusks getting in the way, was unintentionally hilarious. Or was it unintentional? This movie is so bad, I feel like maybe they purposely made it that way for a future following due to campiness a la Rocky Horror Picture Show. It’s that dumb.
The story: there are two worlds–one with humans in what appears to be a Medieval English kingdom (but filled with minority nobles, including Asians and Blacks, which wasn’t the case then), and another with giant animated, ugly, caveman-like monsters, known as “Orcs.” Somehow humans have gotten into the Orc’s world, and the evil Orc leaders keep them prisoner to suck the life out of them and feed that lifeforce to a gateway to the human world. The Orcs want to eventually make the gateway powerful enough that they can travel through it to the human world and take it over.
The humans discover the Orc world and want to stop what the Orcs are trying to do. They take prisoner a beautiful half-breed Orc, played by Poundstone, and she eventually helps them and infiltrates the Orc world on their behalf. Then, there is a giant battle between Orcs and humans.
Believe me, I’m making this sound more understandable than it actually is. It’s really quite confusing. And you just don’t care enough to try to figure it out. Again, it’s from a video game. So, there’s no hope for it anyway.
If there was one thing I liked about this, it’s that some of the Orcs have interesting-looking tusks. One has tusks on his back with skulls on them. Others wear monster skeletons as accessories. Those kept me interested for like two minutes. Not enough to wanna waste two hours of my life I’ll never get back.
Watch the trailer . . .

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Last Wknd’s Box Office: Weiner, Me Before You, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

By Debbie Schlussel


Here are my belated reviews of last weekend’s new movies. I did not see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. Surprisingly, the only movie I found worthwhile is the documentary about former Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner.
Remember, you can always hear my movie reviews live, first thing every Friday morning on “The Pat Campbell Show” on KFAQ 1170 AM Tulsa at 7:35 a.m. Eastern, and on “The James Show,” on KWTX 1230 AM at 8:30 a.m. Eastern, on “The Larry The Cable Guy Show” (sometimes on Thursdays) between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Eastern on SiriusXM’s Jeff and Larry’s Comedy Roundup Channel 97, and on “The Mike Church Show” on the Veritas Radio Network/CRUSADE. I do my movie reviews on all four shows, as well as some discussion of current political issues and pop culture topics.

* Weiner – R: I have mixed feelings in continuing to make former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner the punching bag. After all, in liberal New York City, where he ran for Mayor, Weiner is almost a right-winger compared to the scumbag Marxist America-hater, Warren Wilhelm Jr. a/k/a “Bill DeBlasio.” Even though he’s a perv, Weiner would have been preferable to the Communazi that occupies New York’s Mayor seat right now.
Weiner’s run for Mayor–a year after his Twitter sexting scandal was uncovered and he resigned from Congress–is the subject of this documentary. The movie follows Weiner through the ups and many downs of the campaign. At first, he is leading in the polls, as New Yorkers are willing to give him a second chance. But, then, as new sexting between Weiner and a woman named Sidney Leathers is uncovered, the movie shows Weiner’s hard fall. And all the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t put Humpty Dumpty Weiner together again. Weiner, ever the optimist, seems naive for a seasoned politician. He won’t face that there is no chance of winning the race, once the news has broken. It’s just “too soon,” as they say.
While there’s nothing exactly knew in this documentary, it’s interesting nonetheless. We see how egomaniacal both he and his wife, Hillary Clinton’s Saudi-Arabian Muslim top aide Huma Abedin, are. And, though the movie goes overboard trying to portray Huma as a sympathetic victim, it doesn’t really work. She comes off as a phony who worries mostly not about what’s good for her marriage or family, but what’s good for her image and political career. In truth, Weiner–as out of touch and idiotic as he is–is far more sympathetic than his scheming, calculating, ever-PR-ing wife. He is more of a putz than a schmuck. And she clearly wears the pants . . . and mans the puppet strings in that “marriage.”
Huma is worried only about Huma, even as she stays in the marriage and declares her continued love for Weiner. But a loving, supportive wife doesn’t deliberately refuse to appear in political ads with her husband. Huma refuses. And a loving, supportive wife doesn’t refuse to accompany him to vote at the polls on election day. Self-centered Huma, worried about the optics for herself, refuses. And she leaves Weiner to take their kid in the stroller to the polls to vote alone . . . and to come up with the less-than-believable excuse of “scheduling” as the reason she is not there.
I couldn’t help but notice a couple of things:
Huma is repeatedly–and only–shown all glammed-up and wearing a series of high-fashion dresses, reminiscent of a Stepford Wife’s stock wardrobe. I also noticed the Abedin-Weiners’ magnificent, fancy New York apartment, complete with expensive SubZero refrigerator (which typically costs several thousand dollars). The apartment looked like a multi-million dollar pad. And, yet, the documentary makers never asked how the couple can afford the place. He, after all, is unemployed and previously worked as a Congressman who made less than $200,000 per year. She was supposed to be living on a public servant’s salary, too. But, then, there is the fact–never ever mentioned in the movie–that Huma was somehow able to work as a high-paid “consultant” for the mysterious Teneo “advisory” firm at the same time that she was also collecting her State Department Clintonista salary, illegally double-dipping. If only the filmmakers bothered to mention this or, at least, inquire about the apartment’s cost and source of funding.
Like I said, nothing new here. But it is somewhat entertaining, especially if you’re a political junkie and want to see inside the heads of a selfish political couple who exemplify Mr. and Mrs. Uber-Narcissist.
Anthony Weiner is a dope who can’t help himself to save his life. But Huma is cold, calculating, and a flat-out selfish phony who is the queen of all selfish phonies. Real victims reside in the morgue, not the Abedin-Weiner household.

* Me Before You – PG-13: The Feel-Good Euthansia Movie of the Year! I found this manipulative movie appalling because it sells death with a whole lot of phony glamour, comedy, luxe decor, and bright colors. In this, assisted suicide is rewarding and pretty. And, in this, assisted suicide is a chick flick filled with good-looking, happy-go-lucky people laughing and smiling. No dark Dr. Kevorkian and his battered old Volkswagen van dumping out the dead bodies in the alley. ‘Cuz that would be a turn-off. And closer to reality.
This movie takes place in Europe, but we in America are sadly, unduly trying to become the next Europe. And we’re well on our way. Unlimited Muslim immigration jihad, legalized pot and gay marriage, transgenderism as the new civil right, and legalized assisted suicide fast become more and more available across the formerly-fruited and now-jacked-up plane.
Taken from the “romance” novel of the same name by British writer Jojo Moyes, this movie follows happy-go-lucky working class girl Lou Clark, played by Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke (who has it easy answering throughout the movie to her nearly-identical real-life last name). Clarke is a great actress with huge charm and personality, who is excellent in this movie and will be a big star. The problem is that she’s excellent in a movie that glorifies and soft-pedals death.
The 20-something, cheery Lou, who lives in a village near London, is hired by a very wealthy couple (they own the town’s castle and a giant estate) to care for their quadriplegic 30-something son, Will. He lost most bodily function and movement, after a motorcycle hit him on a rainy day. Before that, he was an athletic, powerful buyer of distressed companies. Now, he is bitter and obnoxious about his current state. Soon, though, Will warms up to Lou and her unassuming charm. And the two of them fall in love.
But Lou discovers that Will plans to travel to Switzerland for an assisted suicide and has given his parents six months to try to stop him. Lou learns she was hired for that purpose. She tries to save him and begins taking Will on adventures and ultimately a romantic vacation. But at the end of the vacation, Will informs Lou that despite their love, he will go on with the suicide as planned. That’s because he’s a selfish, incredibly spoiled unlikable creep, no matter how much the movie tries to romanticize him.
Of course, as in most such movies, Hollywood provides us with the stock “ignorant, unsophisticated, working-class, pro-life Christian.” Lou’s mother–who is suddenly wearing her cross for the first time in the movie–tells her daughter not to travel to Switzerland because if she does, it’s the same as taking part in a murder (which, in fact, it is). “Oh, Mom . . . ” is the refrain. Lou’s sister tells their mother that “it’s not that simple. It’s more complicated than that.” Not really.
Of course, Lou ends up going to Switzerland to watch Will’s assisted suicide. And, of course, the setting is a glamorous white Victorian mansion. Instead of seeing Will being snuffed out, we are shown leaves softly fluttering in the air. Awwww . . . assisted suicide, it’s just like a Harlequin romance novel.
In the next and final scene, Lou is in Paris on an all-expenses-paid trip courtesy of the now-dead Will and she’s sitting at a romantic cafe, then going shopping to buy expensive perfume. Lou has just learned that Will left her a giant bank account to free her from her “irrelevant” working-class life with a simpleton pro-life Christian mom. See, going along with assisted suicide has its rewards. And the disabled are useless and to be snuffed out. Those are the messages in this disgusting movie, which should have been called “Pimping Death.”
As I was watching this I was reminded of the movie “Million Dollar Baby,” one of the first movies I ever reviewed here more than a decade ago. In that bait-and-switch film, a successful female boxer is also assisted in suicide after she is disabled and no longer able to fight.
Excuse me if I value life and think disabled human beings are worthy of it. That’s not what Hollywood wants you to think. And funny how the Nazis felt the same way as the showbiz people. Now, on to the ObamaCare death panels for the little people . . . .
* Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping – R: Though this movie had some funny moments and lines, I hated it. It’s absolute garbage. And just plain stupid. The only spot-on insight here was the statement by the main character–a popstar–that “there’s no such thing as selling out anymore.” No kidding. This movie is Exhibit A of that. It’s yet more cinematic trash eagerly mass-produced to make a buck.
Saturday Night Live alum Andy Samberg (who I never thought was all that funny) stars in this as a Justin-Beiber-esque White rapper/pop star. At first, Samberg is in a three-member pop group, The Style Boys, which is his real-life Lonely Island Boys act on SNL, co-starring his childhood friends Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer. When Samberg’s character becomes “too big,” the group members feud and break up. One of them bitterly leaves and becomes a farmer in rural America. The other becomes the DJ for Samberg’s new solo act. Samberg’s raps stink, and are filthy and politically incorrect (but not in a good way). And Samberg is just an all-around schmuck who self-destructs.
The movie takes the form of a “documentary” a la VH1’s former documentary series, “Behind the Music.” It’s chock full of celebrity cameo appearances and other SNL alumni and current cast members. But it’s just not that funny . . . unless your idea of “funny” is a penis hanging over the window of a limo. Sorry, not funny. And most of the jokes are gratuitously raunchy like that.
The one thing this movie does well is its portrayal of bratty pop acts a la Bieber. It captures the excesses, whether its women, behavior, or spending. The guy is an egomaniac. Ultimately, Samberg gets upstaged by another rapper and must “suffer” the consequences of the same kind of behavior to which he’s treated everybody else. And the movie captures the crass commercialism of music acts these days. Samberg makes a ridiculous deal with a major appliance company to have all of its products play the songs from his dud album, as soon as somebody opens them. For example, a refrigerator or oven, when opened or in use, begins playing Samberg’s horrible raps (about how he supports gay marriage, but “I’m not gay” he repeatedly notes).
Although this movie is less than 1.5 hours, it seemed painfully longer. It was gross, went too far and was repetitive and just dumb, filled with dumb jokes that loudly thud if they don’t fall flat. Plus, it has the loathsome Sarah Silverman in it. Ugh.
Yes, I know I’m not the target of this movie. The scary thing is that the aimed-for demo–20-somethings and 30-somethings–are mindless sheep who eat this stuff up and think it’s a masterpiece.
We’re well into the summer movie season, and this is the best they got?!

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