NO BOX OFFICE PREDICTIONS FOR TWO WEEKS

Kicking off a brand new year, I’ll be taking a break to prepare for my exams. Yeah…2012’s just starting and I got three tests coming in the first 9 days. Hopefully I’ll be back after a couple of weeks.

For recording purposes though, I’ll say Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol grabs #1 again for the next two weekends (ending Jan. 2 and 9). If my guess is right then my streak will be at 7. Booyah!

248th Movie Review: Segunda Mano

A second-rate, trying hard horror film

You will have to excuse me because I won’t discuss the film’s storyline. The thing is, you’d probably be able to guess what happened in the film if you watched one of its trailers. Because while this may not be a sequel or a prequel, it’s very cliché and it doesn’t take long for you to realize that it’s short on creativity and lacking in talent.

The film stars the overexposed Kris Aquino (Age: 40+), GMA Star Dingdong Dantes (Age: 20+), and Angelica Panganiban (Age: 20+). I bolded their ages to emphasize what’s completely wrong in this film. Why don’t you guess it. Is Kris Aquino Dingdong’s mother in the movie? No! Okay…well, is Angelica her daughter? Hell no! Hmm..what else could it be..Oh, I know! Kris Aquino and Dingdong Dantes are lovers? DING DING DING DING DING DING DING DING DING!!!!

Okay now, relax. Don’t puke on your computer screen. Yes, they are in fact, paired as a couple in the film. So instead of having kilig moments, I ended up being disgusted when these two people kiss or embrace each other. They seem to be very nice in real life, and I really have nothing against them. I just thought Kris was a complete miscast. And now that she’s starred in two straight horror films (which aren’t scary) during the Metro Manila Film Festival, I now think that she’ll be typecast for a few more years, which means that I’m going to have to endure her cougar moments once again, because I always get tagged along to watch horror during December.

Let’s talk about the movie itself. The plot wasn’t bad. In fact, if they just worked on it a bit more it could’ve been worthy of best picture, in the MMFF that is. It’s not as boring as Kris’ previous outing, Dalaw, but probably because of the comic relief which was very excessive. The amount of comedy changed the overall mood of a film and made it even less of a horror flick. The movie was muddled with bad sound effects, ho-hum moments and abrupt scene changes.

Still, I didn’t totally hate the movie. If Kris wasn’t in it I would’ve enjoyed it a lot more. In fact, the movie became more bearable when Valerie “Bangs” Garcia stepped in and joked all the way. But I have to look at it as a horror film, and unfortunately, Segunda Mano is anything but.

GRADE: C-

I Agreed With the MAJORITY?

Rotten Tomatoes: N/A

Internet Movie Database: N/A

Metacritic: N/A

247th Movie Review: Freakonomics

Entertaining, but not freaky

[note: this is my reaction paper to the movie Freakonomics]

Economics is often looked at as a complicated subject. However, if you take a look at its most basic form, it’s simply all about how people choose to use their scarce resources to maximize their utility or overall satisfaction. It may not seem that interesting, but thanks to the creative minds of Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, we are given Freakonomics –  an enticing film which tackles human behaviour from a perspective of incentives and statistics.

The film examines human behaviour with exciting, and oftentimes humorous case studies. Its main point is to get people to believe that incentives matter and that conventional wisdom is often wrong. It supports the premise by presenting four different and intriguing topics.

The first chapter, helmed by Supersize Me’s Morgan Spurlock, talks about baby names, with an emphasis on the disparity between those popular among the African-Americans and Caucasians. In here we learn that no matter what your name is, may it be “Temptress”, “Winner”, or “Loser”, a successful life is not guaranteed. The socio-economic condition, rather than the name itself, is the key.

Part II takes on corruption in the world of sumo wrestling, which went unnoticed for a very long time. This part shows us that although it seemed nonexistent, by taking a closer look at the game’s statistics, we could easily see cheating between competitors with lots to gain and nothing to lose.

The third part, and arguably the most controversial among the four, explains why crime rates suddenly dropped during the 90’s. It reveals how it is possible that legalizing abortion in the United States caused it to happen. This section also analyzes the contribution of different factors to this weird occurrence.

Finally, we are treated with a hilarious story that discusses the idea of offering financial incentives to students. In the end, we learn that giving rewards to excelling students increase their overall performance. However, it failed to post results that they expected when they tested it to 9th graders. And they decided that it would be best if they tried the experiment again on a younger age group.

From the start, the movie goes straight to the point by showing us how incentives work. It shows conviction when it explained different issues, which makes it seem easily believable. The illustrations were simple and fun, especially during the introduction and conclusion.

While everything else I liked, I wasn’t too convinced of the movie’s theory in the third part. It concluded that the legalization of abortion in 1973 was the principal factor of the sharp decline in crime, because unwanted babies may not have been born. As evidence, it pointed to studies of women who had legal abortions; among them 50 percent were likely to be poor and 60 percent likely to be single mothers. Those were predictors of the likelihood that a child may grow up to commit a crime. But as presented in the film, the theory looked purely speculative and not as convincing.

Nevertheless, the movie did its best to explain the four topics as simple as possible. It’s  a way to show others how powerful Economics is in analyzing human behaviour. However, it failed to live up to its title. It gave us unique and interesting subjects, though they aren’t as freaky as what I had expected from a movie entitled “Freakonomics”. In the end, I enjoyed it, but I wasn’t totally satisfied.

GRADE: C+

I Agreed With the MAJORITY

Rotten Tomatoes: 65% Fresh, 6.0/10 Rating

Internet Movie Database: 6.3/10 User Rating

Metacritic: N/A

Box Office Results: December 23-25, 2011 [MI:4 Dominates Christmas Weekend]

My apologies for being a couple of days late, but I wanted to wait for more accurate grosses so that I won’t have to edit the numbers and misinform you later on. Most sites reported a lower box office total when early estimates came out. As it turned out, families wanted to spend Christmas in the movies! Movies ended up at most $3M higher as a result.

This is actually the first Box Office Results entry I made since December 4, so you may be surprised to know that I already nailed the top spot for six straight weeks. Nyaha!

[note: grosses are for the 3-day weekend]

Number One Movie Predicted Correctly: 6 Weeks in a Row

Number of Times I Nailed the Top 7: 5

#1 MOVIE THIS WEEK – Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (1st Week) – The film added 3,000 theaters and as a result went up by 130% from week-to-week. Still, if you add what it earned Monday its total haul would’ve looked much stronger.

Predicted Gross: Rank 1, $30.4M /Actual Gross: $29.5M (+130%)

Total Gross: $61.9M

 

#2 – Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows – It’s behind the original film by more than $50M as of today and it looks like it won’t even crack the $200M barrier. Warner Bros, maybe it’s time to back off from greenlighting sequels a little bit.

Predicted Gross: Rank 3, $18.1M /Actual Gross: $20.3M (-48.9%)

Total Gross: $79.0M

#3 – THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO – This one dropped to 4th place on Monday. Though I’m not really excited to catch this one, I’m a bit disappointed considering this was an adaptation of a bestselling novel which sold millions of copies worldwide. Hmm, we’ll see if it has legs.

Predicted Gross: Rank 2, $21.2M /Actual Gross: $12.8M

Total Gross: $21.1M

 

#4 – Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked – It was a bad year for animated movies overall. Earlier I said that Sherlock trailed its predecessor by $50M right? Well right now Chipwrecked lags behind Squeakwel by more than $90M. Alvin went all in, but moviegoers folded early.

Predicted Gross: Rank 5, $13.4M /Actual Gross: $12.6M (-45.9%)

Total Gross: $49.5M

 

#5 – THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN: SECRET OF THE UNICORN – Looks like most people in the US didn’t grow up reading the books where the movie was based on. There used to be a stack of Tintin novels over at my elementary school’s library…Ah, memories…

Predicted Gross: Rank 4, $13.5M /Actual Gross: $9.7M

Total Gross: $17.7M

 

#6 – WE BOUGHT A ZOO – Perhaps the most underwhelming opening of all was this pic starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson. The low number doesn’t mean it’s a bad movie though, it’s just that it got overshadowed in the crowded marketplace.

Predicted Gross: Rank 6, $11.5M /Actual Gross: $9.4M

Total Gross: $9.4M

 

#7 – WAR HORSE – Probably the best result of the weekend! Steven Speilberg really hit the mark as War Horse opened in third place during its Christmas debut, and it ended up grabbing seventh place for the weekend despite having only one day to rake in the cash. Expect this one to hold on until the end of the Oscar season!

Predicted Gross: Rank 7, $5.1M /Actual Gross: $7.5M

Total Gross: $7.5M

 

The Darkest Hour also opened on Christmas Day with a better-than-expected $3M. It won’t have legs unfortunately.

 

TOTAL SCORE: 3 out of 7, with a variance of $2.9248 per prediction

Total Weekend Gross: $127M, down $12M from the same weekend last year

BOX OFFICE FORECAST: DECEMBER 23-25, 2011 [A JAMPACKED CHRISTMAS]

[Note: My apologies for not being able to post detailed box office results for last week. It sucks because I really wanted to write about the disaster that happened. I’ll make it up to you this week]

When five new movies are expected to be released nationwide over five days, you’ll have no choice but to pick the best one out of the crop. Of course, a lot of factors kick in, but in the end there’s only one result: it’s going to be a crowded weekend at the movies.

There’s a film for everyone this Christmas: drama, action, animation, thriller, family, horror, comedy. The variation will not only benefit moviegoers, but the movies as well. These new films may not be expected to break any records, but in the long run they could end up having grosses north of $100M since most of them are currently holding fresh ratings at Rotten Tomatoes. And word of mouth is very important especially during Oscar season.

                However, none of those movies will probably catch up to Tom Cruise and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, as it goes all-in and expands into more than 3000 theaters. After having an amazing run  in 400+ IMAX theaters, the critically praised sequel will have no problem in attracting moviegoers and raking in the money to claim the top spot.

                With MI4 taking the crown, the highly-anticipated The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo will have to settle for second place. It could end up surprising us though, but I suspect that die-hard fans of the Millennium novels will catch it during the first two days (Wednesday and Thursday), which will affect the film’s performance over the weekend.

                After a very disappointing $39.5M debut last week, the current #1 film Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows will have no room to breathe and relax as competition pushes it down the chart. It may even fall a bit lower and concede to fourth or fifth place. Good word-of-mouth could propel it north of $20M though, but it’s highly unlikely.

                This week’s wildcard goes to Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin. Inspired by the series of graphic novels of the same name, Tintin is less popular in the US compared to Europe, but it should entice enough audiences to pull off an average box office run. It will have to battle Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked if it wants to get to the top four but right now Tintin has the advantage since it’s new while the latter even struggled to capture moviegoers’ attention last week with its terrible $25M start (as compared to the previous films).

                Among other new releases, We Bought A Zoo should have a decent debut. War Horse and The Darkest Hour opens on Christmas Eve which means that their weekend grosses will represent only their first day earnings. War Horse should garner more ticket sales than the latter, which looks like it’s being overshadowed by the overwhelming number of new releases. All movies are predicted to do well over the week.

                TOP 7 PREDICTIONS

#1 – $30.4M – Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

#2 – $21.2M – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

#3 – $18.1M – Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

#4 – $13.5M – The Adventures of Tintin

#5 – $13.4M – Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked

#6 – $11.5M – We Bought A Zoo

#7 – $5.1M – War Horse

#10 – $2.1M – The Darkest Hour

246th Movie Review: Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Taking action into new heights…literally

Mission Impossible 4 is a film worthy to be seen on IMAX. Backed by a fresh cast and a new director, MI4 packs more punch than any other movie in the franchise. This is a perfect example of an amazing sequel – innovative, different and unpredictable.

Here’s how the story goes. A few years after the end of the third movie, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is rescued from a prison cell by a group of agents (Benji and Jane played by Simon Pegg and Paula Patton) from the Impossible Mission Force. They are then quickly tasked to track down a dangerous terrorist named Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist), who has gained access to Russian nuclear launch codes and is planning a strike on the United States. An attempt by the team to stop him at the Kremlin ends in a disaster, with an explosion causing severe destruction to the Kremlin and the IMF being implicated in the bombing, forcing the President to invoke Ghost Protocol, under which the IMF is disavowed, and will be offered no help or backup in any form. Undaunted, Ethan and his team, with the addition of Brandt (Jeremy Renner) chase Hendricks to Dubai, and from there to Mumbai, to save their country from destruction.

The plot was easily comprehensible, which really helped because it took some time for me to remember what occurred in the past. The scenes are very fluid and they felt natural. All you had to do was to sit tight and relax.

From start to finish, the action scenes didn’t disappoint. I kept on wondering how Director Brad Bird (Mr. Incredible) was going to top every single stunt that was being thrown at the audience. It was exhilarating and had me hanging on the edge of my seat. Imagine Ethan being supported by nothing but suction gloves while outside the Burj Khalifa a hundred floors up. Then afterwards he goes into a wild chase on the streets of Dubai during a sandstorm! That’s creativity at its finest. Props to Brad too for making it look all the more believable.

But while the action was thrilling, I wasn’t exactly amazed by the new characters introduced in this sequel. Simon Pegg provided comic relief, but he didn’t always hit the mark. Nevertheless he’s a fresh character that we don’t usually find in movies like these. Paula Patton didn’t possess that alluring image that could’ve spiced up the cast even more. The only exception was Jeremy Renner. The rising star has the potential to replace Ethan as the top agent of the IMF, though he’s not as charismatic.

While the film excelled on most aspects, there were two things I found lacking. For one, the movie lacked any strong emotion between two characters, something present in almost all movies in the series. The second was the fact that the villain wasn’t great enough for me to consider him as formidable. However, these two things don’t really matter when you enjoyed what you saw in two hours. Not a dull moment was to be found in Ghost Protocol.

I have to admit I had doubts on Ghost Protocol a few months back, but after seeing it all I feel ashamed by not believing on Brad Bird a bit more. He has refueled the franchise and brought it to tip-top shape. This is the best film among the four, and probably one of my top picks for the year, and I recommend that you go catch this before the Metro Manila Film Festival kicks in.

GRADE: A-

I Agreed With the MAJORITY

Rotten Tomatoes: 93% Fresh, 7.6/10 Rating

Internet Movie Database: 7.9/10 User Rating

Metacritic: 74/100

BOX OFFICE FORECAST: DECEMBER 16-18, 2011 [DETECTIVES, CHIPMUNKS, AND TOM CRUISE]

Interesting weekend to predict, with Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol saving the year from back-to-back box office weekend disasters. Unfortunately, I won’t have time to talk about the film that much right now so let me just show you my predictions. Box office results will resume on Monday.

TOP 7 PREDICTIONS

#1 – $60.4M – Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

#2  – $36.6M – Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked

#3 – $10.0M – Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (opening in only 400 theaters, more on this soon)

#4 – $7.1M – New Year’s Eve

#5 – $6.0M – Young Adult

#6 – $5.2M – The Sitter

#7 – $5.0M – Hugo