BAD BOYS FOR LIFE Review

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence Return to Michael Bay's Bad Boys Franchise Sans Bay, but the Chemistry and Passage of Time Help this Third Installment Shine.

1917 Review

Writer/Director Sam Mendes and Cinematographer Roger Deakins Craft a Technically Exceptional Film While not Skimping on the Emotional Aspects of War.

DOLITTLE Review

Robert Downey Jr. Departs from the Iron Man Character for the First Time in Some Time in this Overwhelmingly Bland Adaptation that Clearly Could have been More.

JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL Review

The Rock, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan Return in Their Second Video Game Adventure that Continues to Largely Defy Expectation.

STAR WARS: EPISODE IX - THE RISE OF SKYWALKER Review

JJ Abrams Conclusion to the Skywalker Saga is Everything and Nothing at the Same Time; Offering Grand Escapism with Little Heart.

Tavern Talk: Video Review - ONWARD

Disney and Pixar's Onward topped the weekend box office, but fell shy of expectations with $39.1 million. For Pixar, this is on the low end of expectations as many went into the weekend expecting the film to gross as much as $50 million. In terms of inflation, this is the lowest domestic Fri-Sun launch ever for a Pixar film. Sure, there is plenty of opportunity in the near future for Onward as many schools will be on spring break over the next few weeks and given opening weekend audiences gave the film an "A-" CinemaScore and a 96% audience score on RottenTomatoes with critics also favoring the film and no sign of any other broad, children's entertainment entering the picture until Trolls: World Tour on April 10th, there's definitely room for Dan Scanlon's film to spread its wings. Still, even if Onward has legs that get it to $150 million domestic which seems somewhat reasonable at this time of year and given that opening weekend number this would still only place it as the second-lowest Pixar flick between The Good Dinosaur ($123 million domestic in 2015) and Cars 3 ($153 million from a $53 million debut in 2017). Internationally, Onward grossed an estimated $28 million for a $70 million worldwide cume from forty-seven territories, with several major markets (including China) where it has yet to open. On TAVERN TALK this week we were lucky enough to have DJ Kramer from the Doug Kramer Live! show who also happens to be a pretty big Disney guy give us his initial reaction (wink, wink) on the film which you can of course check out after the jump below, but other films we've recently reviewed fared better in holdover news at the box office and I'd like to touch on a few of those titles as well. Beginning with The Invisible Man, the Leigh Whannell-directed horror re-imagining ended its second weekend with $15.1 million for only a 47% drop and a $53 million domestic pull along with a $98 million worldwide total on what was only a reported budget of $7-$9 million. Though its run may be over sooner than later given A Quiet Place Part II opens next week, it's likely the film could end its domestic run at around $81 million, or what Tom Cruise’s The Mummy did three years ago on a $125 million budget. Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog earned another $8 million in its fourth weekend currently giving it a $141 million domestic cume with $154 million overseas and a current global total of almost $296 million. And finally, The Call of the Wild rounded out the top five box office spots as the Harrison Ford-starrer finished its third weekend with $6.8 million for a domestic cume that now tops $57 million while internationally, the film added another $4.8 million for an overseas total of $42 million and a global tally just shy of $100 million. As always, be sure to follow the official TAVERN TALK by Initial Reaction YouTube channel as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter where you can find a new review (or reviews) each week!

Tavern Talk: Video Review - THE INVISIBLE MAN

Universal and Blumhouse's The Invisible Man delivered the goods this past weekend, becoming the first breakout among the numerous horror films that have been thrown at audiences during the first two months of the year. With $28.2 million, Universal and Blumhouse's The Invisible Man finished at the top of the weekend box office and on a reported budget of only $7 to $9 million I might add. Given Blumhouse productions that open in this range tend to go on to earn anywhere between $55 and $70 million things might not be looking so bad for Universal's "Dark Universe" after all. Furthermore, both critics and audiences responded favorably to the film as Leigh Whannell's (Upgrade) second feature currently holds an 89% critics score on RottenTomatoes and a 90% audience score. Internationally, The Invisible Man added another $20.1 million with its current worldwide tally sitting at $50.4 million. Paramount's Sonic the Hedgehog landed in second place adding another $16.3 million, pushing the film's domestic cume past $128 million as it is now just shy of the $131 million domestic run of 2001's Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, which will make it the second highest grossing video game adaptation of all-time not adjusted for inflation. In third place is Disney's release of 20th Century Studios' The Call of the Wild which brought in $13.4 million, dropping an expected -47% in its second weekend. The film's domestic cume now stands at $46.9 million after ten days in release and $80.7 million worldwide after adding another $11 million this weekend internationally. Of course, The Call of the Wild has plenty of ground to make up considering its $135 million production budget, but it seems doubtful the film will come close to that number domestically if not internationally. FUNimation's My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising landed in fourth place with a better than anticipated $5.9 million while Sony's Bad Boys for Life is still hanging on in the fifth spot as it added yet another $4.4 million this weekend for a domestic total that now tops $197 million. The threequel also added another $4.9 million internationally this weekend, pushing the international total to $208 million for a worldwide cume that just hit $406 million or approximately $8 million less than the worldwide total for the first two movies combined. As always, be sure to follow the official TAVERN TALK by Initial Reaction YouTube channel as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter where you can find a new review (or reviews) each week! Hit the jump to catch our review of The Invisible Man featuring Podcast 241 now!

Tavern Talk: Video Review - THE CALL OF THE WILD

The newly minted 20th Century Studios released their inaugural film with the Harrison Ford-starring remake of The Call of the Wild and while it was number one in our hearts at TAVERN TALK this week it couldn't manage enough moolah to be number one at the box office as Paramount's Sonic the Hedgehog managed a second weekend at number one with $26.2 million, pushing the film's domestic cume past $106 million after just ten days in release. After only two weekends, Sonic already ranked as the fourth largest video game adaptation domestically of all-time and as of Monday it surpassed The Angry Birds Movie's $107.5 million to become the third largest earner in terms of that domestic video game adaptation stat. Internationally, Sonic added another $38.3 million, pushing its international cume to $96.5 million for a global tally that presently sits north of $216 million for the $95 million budgeted family flick. As for the weekend's biggest new release, The Call of the Wild finished in second place with $24.8 million, but with a reported production budget of $135 million (thanks, CGI Buck) and God knows how much more in marketing costs on top of that Disney and 20th Century Studios are going to need this one to have legs for days and for those Jack London Funko! collectibles and plush Bucks to sell like hot cakes-not to mention downloads of that Call of the Wild-themed video game for Nintendo Switch having to put up impressive numbers for all of this to pay off. I'm kidding, of course; a family-friendly re-telling of of the brutal, middle-school adventure story isn't exactly easy pickin' for cross promotional merchandise and yet...here we are. As of two days ago the film sat at $45.7 million worldwide with only $16 million coming from international markets. The issue is that The Call of the Wild tells a distinctly American story and while opening weekend audiences seemed to enjoy the film well enough (it earned an "A-" CinemaScore and a 90% audience score on RottenTomatoes) it's hard to imagine after the successful, but not necessarily justifiable opening weekend numbers that this will have the endurance to rationalize the amount of money the studio spent on this thing. The only other new, wide release last week was STX films and Lakeshore Entertainment's horror sequel Brahms: The Boy II which earned $5.8 million domestically and $2.22 million internationally for a global total just over $8 million which, while neither audiences nor critics were fans, isn't bad for a film that only cost $10 million to make. As always, be sure to follow the official TAVERN TALK by Initial Reaction YouTube channel as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter where you can find a new review (or reviews) each week!

Tavern Talk: Video Review - SONIC THE HEDGEHOG

After being delayed three months so Paramount could redesign their titular character (adding $5 million more dollars to the $90 million production) Sonic the Hedgehog finally arrived in theaters over the holiday weekend and defied expectations by delivering the largest opening ever for a video game adaptation. With a $70 million, four-day holiday debut and a $58 million Friday to Sunday gross Sonic topped last May's Pokemon Detective Pikachu ($54.4 million) to become the largest three-day opening ever for a video game adaptation. In finishing with that aforementioned $70 million over the four-day weekend the film, based on the iconic SEGA video game, is now the fourth largest Presidents' Day opening ever. Sonic not only performed well this weekend, but was a hit with audiences as well, earning an "A" CinemaScore and a 95% audience rating on RottenTomatoes. Furthermore, the opening weekend audience for the film supplied the stat that 70% of tickets sold were for those under the age of twenty-five. In second is where we find Warner Brother's Birds of Prey as it brought in another $17 or so million over the three-day and delivered almost $20 million for the four-day holiday frame, pushing the film's domestic total to nearly $62 million. Internationally, the film generated another $23 million over the weekend as the film's international cume now totals $83.6 million, pushing the global tally to $145.5 million on a production budget of $84.5 million. Rounding out the top five is Sony's Bad Boys for Life, which brought in $11.5 million over the three-day to finish with just over $13 million for the extended weekend as the sequel now tops $182 million domestic with a global cume of $368 million. In other news, the weekend's other two new wide release, Sony's Fantasy Island and Universal's The Photograph, finished in third and fourth place with only $504,493 separating the two at the end of the four-day weekend. Neon's Parasite received a huge bump for its many wins at the Oscars as the South Korean film expanded into over 2,000 locations over the weekend bringing in an additional $5.7 million. This performance pushes the film's domestic gross past $44 million, currently making it the fifth largest foreign language release ever. The other new release last weekend, Searchlight's re-make of the Swedish film, Force Majeure, titled Downhill and starring Will Ferrell and Julie Louis-Dreyfus landed just inside the top ten by barely clearing $5 million over the holiday frame with bad reviews and poor audience reception hinting this thing will disappear before the month is up. As always, be sure to follow the official TAVERN TALK by Initial Reaction YouTube channel as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter where you can find a new review (or reviews) each week!

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG Review

Sonic the Hedgehog is the kind of straight-down-the-middle piece of live-action family entertainment that we just don’t get as often as kids fed on this particular genre in the nineties were once accustomed to. At a certain point in time, it seemed as if audiences on the verge of puberty, but not quite there, were delivered a sports-themed adventure or underdog story featuring kids their own age on an annual basis-whether it was The Sandlot, The Little Giants, The Mighty Ducks, The Big Green, A Kid in King Arthur’s Court or Angel’s in the Outfield-the point is there were plenty of options not only for the youngest of youngsters, but for tweens before people even knew what tweens were. Lately though (and when I say lately I mean the last twenty-five years or so lately) that demographic has been lumped in with the more sophisticated audiences required to digest the lofty animated expectations of studios such as Pixar. That said, having never been a fan or player of Sonic the Hedgehog there was no real emotional or nostalgic connection to the original Sega property or its many animated incarnations over the years. As a live-action adaptation of a popular nineties video game is the closest we get to any of those aforementioned titles these days though, director Jeff Fowler’s feature directorial debut then fills the nostalgic void left by the absence of such titles by default. Fowler and/or Paramount Pictures seems to have known this to be the case thus their main objective becoming to not only entertain the kiddos of today with an updated take on a character they might have seen an episode of or played a game with at one time or another, but also to hone in on the same fan base that threw a fit when the first, original trailer for the film was released and the design of the titular character garnered such backlash that the studio delayed the release of the film and re-designed its CGI star completely. That is to say, not only did Paramount realize there was a large fan base for this property, but a passionate one as well and one that was not only anxious to see a childhood favorite get the live-action treatment, but to re-capture the feelings this character inspired and to re-live this time in their lives that Sonic represents. To this extent, Paramount went the extra mile and hired Jim Carrey to play the role of the antagonist in the evil Dr. Robotnik. This isn’t the Jim Carrey of Mr. Popper's Penguins or even Yes Man though, no, this is the Jim Carrey of The Mask or Ace Ventura as the fifty-eight year-old pulls off his most physically comedic role in what feels like forever to what I can only imagine is the pure joy and delight of thirty year-olds everywhere. It is this combination of Carrey playing the hits combined with the genre re-vamping that leads to Sonic the Hedgehog being as appealing as it ends up being, for despite not having any nostalgic connections to the character itself, these elements make up for this as Fowler’s film more or less accomplishes what it sets out to accomplish and will satisfy any resident of the 16-bit gaming era while still not mustering enough excitement to write home about it…and if I remember anything about The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog from my Saturday morning binges in 1993 that feels about par for the course.

Official Trailer for Wes Anderson's THE FRENCH DISPATCH

The first trailer for Wes Anderson's follow-up to his 2016 stop-motion film, Isle of Dogs, is here and is his first live-action film since what is arguably his masterpiece in 2014's The Grand Budapest Hotel. The French Dispatch “brings to life a collection of stories from the final issue of an American magazine published in a fictional 20th-century French city.” Per usual, Anderson rounded-up quite the cast for what will be his tenth feature with both new additions and some returning favourites. Bill Murray plays the editor of the aforementioned American magazine who is trying to put together this publication’s final issue. As this narrative is happening, the audience will see three different stories being covered by his staff members come to life in a way only Anderson could seemingly conceive. It is in bringing to life these three different stories that I assume Anderson adopts the different visual styles we see glimpses of in this first trailer; there is of course the black and white, but the predominant characters of those clips also appear in clips that are in color while there also looks to be a circular shot of a host of characters that feels very out of character for Anderson. The fact I'm wholly intrigued by a director's choice to use a certain kind of shot over his typical, perfectly symmetrical style of framing is proof enough as to why Anderson is not only engaging as a filmmaker, but as a storyteller in general. I don't even know where else to start with how excited I am about a new, live-action Wes Anderson movie for as much as I love his animated outings there is something about seeing him breathe his vision through a cavalcade of famous faces all perfectly embodying his sense of tone and timing that is both strangely exhilarating and reliably uproarious. And while The French Dispatch looks to not skew too far from what everyone loves about Anderson's work this does have the feeling of the filmmaker having done something very big and quite special to celebrate it being his tenth feature. I wholeheartedly expect Anderson to continue making his own brand of movie for as long as he has something to say, but it will also be interesting to see if he, in any way, is evolving his own style here for despite believing the man is incapable of spinning his wheels it does feel it will be necessary to continue to show growth-even if that growth is only through his storytelling prowess rather than his visuals. The French Dispatch also stars Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Wally Wolodarsky, Bob Balaban, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Léa Seydoux, Benicio del Toro, Henry Winkler, Elisabeth Moss, Griffin Dunne, Lyna Khoudri and opens on July 24, 2020.

BIRDS OF PREY AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN Review

If one wants to talk about how much Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn doesn't care about precedent the movie could essentially be boiled down to a story about a girl, Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn, seeking out a diamond for a guy (a fantastically eccentric Ewan McGregor). No matter what you thought (or didn’t think) of 2016's Suicide Squad it would seem that at the very least the majority would agree that Robbie’s Harley Quinn was a highlight. With that, Robbie both brings us and takes on the Birds of Prey story while continuing to carry on Quinn's arc in a manner that is respectful to a character that hasn't always had the most respect for herself. While the film may take its title from the DC Comics team that made its debut in 1996 and originated from a partnership between Black Canary AKA Dinah Lance (played here by Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and Barbara Gordon AKA Batgirl (who is not in the film), this is mostly a spin-off of that aforementioned David Ayer flick centering on Harley Quinn and the trials she faces as she moves past being more than just the Joker's girlfriend to becoming her own person whereas the project as a whole seemingly serves as Robbie's opportunity to champion the formation of the more traditional "Birds of Prey" line-up so that they might earn their own spin-off. So yes, this is touted as Birds of Prey AND the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, but while Black Canary, Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) get their formidable introductions one would be mistaken were they to expect anything more than introductions to these new characters. That said, writer Christina Hodson (Bumblebee) and director Cathy Yan (Dead Pigs) take this combination of different DC elements and characters and create in Birds of Prey an energetic, vibrant, violent and all-around ambitious yet very playful production where the tone of the film and the world in which it exists are completely representative of the main character anchoring all of the story and action beats. Yes, this is the same Gotham City in which Ben Affleck's Batman once roamed, but as seen through the eyes of a crazed former psychologist who wants to blaze her own trail Gotham City possesses a more manic zeal that Yan stylizes to the hilt even when the Guy Ritchie-like narrative becomes muddled in moments. It is in this fresh and enthusiastic-feeling direction that Birds of Prey really comes together as Yan, despite not having the time to fully flesh out each of the individual members of this femme force, delivers a thoroughly entertaining and endearingly practical movie that doesn't upend expectations as much as it throws them out the window completely; giving the audience something wholly unexpected to experience yet completely satisfying in ways they probably didn't know they were ready for.

Tavern Talk: Video Review - GRETEL & HANSEL

For the third week in a row Sony's Bad Boys for Life topped the box office as the long awaited third film in the franchise has now become the series' biggest film topping $148 million domestically. It also helps that the competition has been rather light over the past few weeks as well with both of this past weeken's newcomers failing to meet expectations and one almost failing to even make it into the top ten. With a total just shy of $17.7 million over its third weekend and another $30.8 million internationally, Bad Boys' international total now stands at $142.7 million for another franchise best equaling out to a current global cume of $271 million. It is in fourth place that we find the first newcomer in United Artists Releasing's Gretel & Hansel opening with just $6 million on a reported production budget of $5 million. This performance doesn't come as much of a surprise given the limited amount of promotion and press anyone involved has done as well as considering the fact it's the fourth horror/thriller to be released in theaters over the last five weeks. While I found more to appreciate than dislike about the film it seemed no one cared enough about the film or were interested in another "dark take" on a widely known fairy tale to go out of their way to see it over Super Bowl weekend. Opening weekend audiences gave the film a "C-" CinemaScore with a measly 20% audience rating at RottenTomatoes which I can understand given the slow pacing and lack of jump scares, but c'mon people! 20%?!?! That's insane! And so, while Gretel & Hansel will suffer a fate it doesn't wholly deserve and be forgotten by the end of next weekend it seems Paramount's The Rhythm Section, starring Blake Lively and based on a series of novels by Mark Burnell, will face a fate even worse as the $50 million flick brought in just over $2.7 million in its first weekend frame from 3,049 locations for what amounted to only a $918 per theater average AKA the worst opening ever for a film debuting on over 3,000 screens. As always, be sure to follow the official TAVERN TALK by Initial Reaction YouTube channel as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter where you can find a new review (or reviews) each week!

Tavern Talk: Video Review - THE GENTLEMEN

This week on TAVERN TALK by initial reaction we were lucky enough to have Fox 16's Michael Cook stop by and discuss STX's The Gentlemen with us, but in terms of box office it was Bad Boys For Life that continued to dominate the conversation. Bilall Fallah and Adil El Arbi's sequel to 2003's Bad Boys II ended its second weekend with $34 million which was enough for the Sony picture to repeat atop the weekend box office, dropping just -45.6% from the film's impressive debut over the holiday weekend last week. This strong performance pushes Bad Boys For Life's domestic total past the $120 million mark after only ten days in release with it now being less than $20 million away from becoming the highest grossing domestic release in the franchise. Needless to say, a fourth film is already in the works though there is question as to whether or not Fallah and El Arbi will return. Personally, while it was necessary for some young blood to reinvigorate the aging franchise if we're going to make a "Bad Boys Fourever" it would be nice to see Michael Bay return to his baby and close out the series that started his career. We're here to talk about The Gentlemen though, and in regards to the new Guy Ritchie flick the results were...not bad? Landing in fourth, The Gentlemen pulled in $10.6 million coming up just shy of the estimated $11 million Sunday projections held for the weekend on an estimated production budget of $18.4 million. Of course, this was never going to break out in the way last weekend's R-rated, action-fueled, male-centric romp did, but as far as Guy Ritchie gangster pictures go this feels par for the course. In early 2001 Snatch earned $30 million domestic on a $6 million budget while seven years later RocknRolla struggled to make $25 million worldwide on a budget of $18 million thus signaling why Ritchie quickly jumped to big studio fare with his Sherlock Holmes films earning a combined domestic total of almost $400 million and well over a billion worldwide before going through the cycle once more with financial disappointments in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. ($107 million worldwide on a $75 million budget) and King Arthur ($148 million worldwide on a $175 million budget) and then returning to tentpole filmmaking with last year's live-action Aladdin adaptation which easily churned out a billion. Fortunately, to go along with an acceptable opening weekend The Gentlemen did receive a strong critical reception and a "B+" CinemaScore from opening day audiences. Internationally, Miramax still holds the rights and following a limited release in just a few markets over the past few weeks, this weekend saw The Gentlemen add another twenty territories where it earned another $3.1 million, pushing the film's early international cume to $22.5 million and a global total of $33.5 million with plenty of room to grow. As always, be sure to follow the official TAVERN TALK by Initial Reaction YouTube channel as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter where you can find a new review (or reviews) each week!

THE GENTLEMEN Review

Given my 1987 born ass has always been a fan of writer/director Guy Ritchie's (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, RocknRolla) post-Tarantino style that pummels you with said style until you are essentially forced by submission into appreciating it one wouldn't be wrong in recognizing that Ritchie has strayed from that which made him a star in the late nineties/early aughts as his most recent, studio-centric efforts (King Arthur and Aladdin) have not only leaned toward the more conventional in their style, but also in their storytelling. 2015's The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was our first glimpse at the next step in Ritchie's evolution as it was meant to be (no, I didn't see Revolver, but have heard terrible, terrible things) delivering an action/spy thriller very much in line with the attitude of his earlier work while possessing a more refined, more finessed outward style. If the Robert Downey Jr./Jude Law Sherlock Holmes films were the apex of early Ritchie style with a big studio mentality then The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was Ritchie evolving before our eyes and taking it a couple of steps further than he needed to just to ensure us he was in fact maturing. With his return to form as it were though, Ritchie's The Gentlemen finds the filmmaker striking the best balance yet between his past and his contemporary status among his contemporaries. A more subdued and self-aware English gangster romp than his first few features, The Gentlemen compiles many of Ritchie's most recognizable tropes including classic English geezer names and clever overlapping narratives, but most importantly it retains the sense of fun those early films were regarded for as The Gentlemen's pomp and wit are at full exposure more so in the characters than they are anything having to do with the double-crossing, drug-dealing plot we've seen and heard countless times before.

Tavern Talk: Video Review - BAD BOYS FOR LIFE

Twenty-five years ago a buddy cop comedy starring two of TV's biggest stars was made for an estimated $23 million which went on to gross $141.4 million worldwide. It was somewhat groundbreaking at the time to have two black men co-lead a tentpole action flick in a genre that had been made popular by the oddball pairings of Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte and Mel Gibson and Danny Glover up until that point. Martin Lawrence and Will Smith's debut would put to rest any doubts that the two of them were stars and eight years later they would return to the roles of Mike Lowery and Marcus Burnett for what remains, to this day, director Michael Bay's masterpiece of Bayhem in Bad Boys II. That second film, which featured so many subplots and two different drug runner antagonists who looked similar enough they may as well have been father and son and culminated in Smith and Lawrence's characters driving through a small Cuban neighborhood in a yellow Hummer was made for a staggering $130 million in 2003, but made back its production budget domestically on its way to a cool $273 million worldwide. Seventeen years later and we finally have a third film in the franchise and while I think they should have maybe saved the "Bad Boys 4 Life" title for the next go-around, but alas here we are and Bad Boys For Life defied all expectation and hope not just in its mid-January debut, but in overall quality as the $90 million production from Belgian directing duo Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah pulled in a whopping $73 million over the four-day MLK holiday frame. The film's $62.5 million three-day performance is also the second largest January three-day debut, just behind 2015's American Sniper ($89.26m) as well as Sony's largest R-rated opening ever, topping the $57 million for 22 Jump Street in 2014. Even better is the "A" CinemaScore and 97% audience rating on RottenTomatoes from opening weekend audiences indicating this thing could have some serious legs. Beating the opening weekend numbers of summer tentpoles like John Wick: Chapter 3 ($56.8m), Mission: Impossible - Fallout ($61.2m), Straight Outta Compton ($60.2m) and Hobbs & Shaw ($60m) which all went on to gross over at least $160 million bodes well for the film and the franchise as it's not hard to see this now landing somewhere between $170-$180 million domestic. Internationally, Bad Boys for Life brought in $38.6 million for a current global tally of nearly $112 million after four days in release. Needless to say, we'll probably be getting that Bad Boys 4 much quicker than we did two or three. As always, be sure to follow the official TAVERN TALK by Initial Reaction YouTube channel as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter where you can find a new review (or reviews) each week!

BAD BOYS FOR LIFE Review

As an individual who holds a special place in their heart for what was the pinnacle of everything a sixteen year-old boy could want from a movie it always felt something like destiny that Bad Boys II arrived in theaters eight years after the original in the summer of 2003 shortly after I turned sixteen. Bad Boys II was undoubtedly one of the first R-rated features I saw in theaters and I saw it simply on the basis of loving both Will Smith and Martin Lawrence (I'd bought the DVD of Lawrence's live stand-up show, Runteldat, the year before and Smith had always felt near and dear to me as my dad exposed myself and my siblings to The Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff's records at such a young age that they would lead to my brothers and I performing his songs at our elementary school talent shows) and so, with no point of reference for why there was a roman numeral in the title I saw Bad Boys II multiple times that summer. The fact it was a sequel to a movie I hadn't seen didn't matter. What I witnessed was Lawrence and Smith unhinged and completely free to do, say and act however they wanted and while I didn't yet know who Michael Bay was I can remember thinking after seeing Bad Boys II that I loved the style of the movie; not just the grandiosity of it, but the saturated look of every moment as we didn't just take it at face value that the movie took place in Miami because the movie made us feel like we were IN Miami...and the movement of the camera-while calling attention to itself, certainly-was still some of the coolest, most inventive camera work I'd seen up until that point. Cut to seventeen years later and for one reason or another a third Bad Boys film never materialized until now. Is it kind of a shame Smith and Lawrence didn't make another Bad Boys flick in their forties thus saving the appropriate title of Bad Boys For Life for the fourth installment that could very well be the film we now have as the third in the series instead? Yeah, it's kind of a bummer, but the extended break also admittedly marks the return of Lawrence and Smith to the big screen as these characters as something truly special and something that-just as I'm beginning to genuinely feel older and rapidly approaching the age Smith was when he made Bad Boys II-no other franchise could have done at this moment in time as Bad Boys for Life both takes me back to what it felt like during that youthful summer when the sun never felt like it would set while also bringing me into the present and reminding me how critical it is that we keep moving forward and don't get too caught up in the past.

Tavern Talk: Video Review - 1917

This week on TAVERN TALK by initial reaction we were lucky enough to have writer/director Daniel Campbell (Antiquities) join us to discuss what is now seemingly the front-runner for Best Picture at this year's Academy Awards in Sam Mendes' WWI film, 1917. While 1917 racked up an impressive ten nominations on Monday morning when the 92nd annual Oscar nominations were announced the film had even more to celebrate when it learned it not only earned an impressive $37 million after its nationwide expansion, but that it also unseated Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to be the number one film at the box office. 1917 expanded into nearly 3,500 locations last weekend after playing in just eleven theaters over the previous two weeks. Prior to last week, tracking had the film opening somewhere in the $25 million range, but following a pair of Golden Globe wins on January 5th and some seriously strong word of mouth the film ultimately had no choice but to shatter such expectations and given this upcoming weekend only has the action/comedy Bad Boys for Life and family film Dolittle on the docket I wouldn't be surprised to see 1917 gain even more traction after its multiple Oscar nominations. Internationally, the film also debuted in thirty markets adding nearly $20 million, pushing the current worldwide total to nearly $67 million including what it earned in those first couple of weeks of limited release. 1917 also earned an "A" CinemaScore as general audiences seem to agree with the rave reviews being lauded upon it by critics. Yes, folks just like with Zero Dark Thirty (a $24 million opening weekend in 2013), Lone Survivor (a $37 million opening in 2014) and American Sniper (an $89 million opening in 2015) the first major "wide release expansion" of the year is a war themed film ripe with awards buzz and Universal knew exactly what it was doing in positioning 1917 in this spot primed to be consumed by the masses after screening it for critics just before Thanksgiving, letting that positive buzz build for a month before its limited run began on Christmas Day thus leaving both general and attentive audiences anxious to see what all the fuss was about. Kudos to Universal, DreamWorks/Amblin as well as Mendes himself for doing much of the press rounds on this thing and promoting it as an experience that is best seen on the big screen. 1917 is certainly that and while the film didn't make my top ten of 2019 it would certainly land somewhere in the top twenty as it is a film I'd highly recommend for its ambition alone. As always, be sure to follow the official TAVERN TALK by Initial Reaction YouTube channel as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter where you can find a new review (or reviews) each week!

Teaser Trailer for MORBIUS Starring Jared Leto

 http://www.reviewsfromabed.com/2020/01/teaser-trailer-for-morbius-starring.html
The first trailer for Sony's second entry in their anti-hero universe, Morbius, has arrived and unfortunately it looks quite similar to Ruben Fleischer's Venom. Venom was an exercise in truly bizarre tone, acting, everything along with its weirdly nineties action aesthetic that sometimes felt more cheap than it did gritty which I have to assume is what they were going for. Luckily, with Morbius we are in much more reliable hands than Fleischer's one-hit wonder-ness as Morbius was directed by Daniel Espinosa, the man behind the likes of Safe House, Child 44 and Life. And while that sentence may be tinged with a certain amount of facetiousness I have liked each of those films to a certain degree and wouldn't label any of them as necessarily terrible. Safe House was a solid action/thriller as was Child 44 even if it had been hacked apart after sitting on the shelf for years and 2017’s Life was a fun little twist on a sci-fi, Alien-esque flick. So, it’s not really Espinosa that’s the cause for concern here, but more it is the writing team of Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless AKA the team behind such runaway hits as Gods of Egypt, The Last Witch Hunter and Dracula Untold (remember how that cinematic universe wound up?) and although a director can do a lot with an otherwise hackneyed script in terms of improving upon it with a certain stylistic approach and hiring actors that elevate the material-and say what you will about Jared Leto’s Joker, but the guy is a solid actor and puts in the time-what honestly feels most at the expense of the studio mentality here is whatever rich character history that comes along with this particular character from the comics. As someone who doesn’t read comics the only point of reference I have with the titular character prior to this is that of the animated Spider-Man series from the nineties, but Morbius was always an indelible presence in that series given he personified the horror genre to a kid who wasn’t allowed to watch horror movies yet. There’s certainly something Sony can tap into here, but only time will tell if Espinosa and crew dig beneath the surface or if they're simply covering the necessary bases. Of course, there is then the matter of that cameo at the end and what it means both for the future of the MCU and whatever Sony is trying to do here while raising serious interest in the details of the deal Kevin Feige and Avi Arad worked out, but whatever the case may be one thing is clear: Spider-Man: Senior Year is going to be nertz. Morbius also stars Adria Arjona, Jared Harris, Matt Smith, Michael Keaton, Tyrese Gibson, Charlie Shotwell, Corey Johnson, Archie Renaux, Abraham Popoola and opens in theater on July 31st, 2020.

2020 Oscar Nominations

Here we are once again with the 2020 Oscar nominations and while I attempt to limit any coverage of the awards season hoopla (simply because there are so many to cover and too little to care about) the Academy Awards are obviously the biggest show of the season and so it was with great anticipation I awaited this morning’s announcements. What had been great about this year's award season up until really this past weekend was that there seemed a real lack of any clear front-runner, though 1917 quickly seems to be taking that spot with an impressive ten nominations this morning including for Best Picture and Director. There have been so many films vying for the attention of awards season audiences this season, including a few that seemed poised to make a big impression this year, but haven't garnered as many accolades as expected including The Lighthouse (which scored a cinematography nom here) and apparently Uncut Gems (my favorite film of the year) and while we're piling on A24 let's just go ahead and acknowledge the fact The Farewell received zero nominations alongside Gems. Returning to what did receive nominations though, while 1917 is currently making a strong case for Best Picture after its $36.5 million box office pull in its first weekend of wide release it was Todd Phillips' Joker that received the most nods with eleven total nominations. The Irishman and Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood join 1917 with ten nominations a piece (though Robert De Niro was not one of those nominations in the Lead Actor category) while Marriage Story, Parasite, Jojo Rabbit and Little Women all came out with six nominations a piece with the most noise surrounding any of those nominations being that Great Gerwig did not receive a directing nod for her sophomore effort, Little Women. While I understand that call to recognize a more diverse array of artists I wasn't the biggest fan of Little Women (I thought it was fine, but didn't fall in love with it) and would have preferred a nomination for The Farewell's Lulu Wang, Queen & Slim's Melina Matsoukas or Olivia Wilde for Booksmart (which also received zero nominations and is a travesty in my opinion). The fact remains though that 2019 was an incredibly string year for film and there were inevitably going to be some great films left off the list. It's also important to remember that just because your choice wasn't nominated that the other films deserve to be degraded; overall, the nominations largely went to deserving films, but we'll dig into all that in further paragraphs. For now, hit the jump for a full list of nominees.

1917 Review

At the risk of spoiling a truly grisly moment in writer/director Sam Mendes' latest film, there is an instance not fifteen minutes into the film when our protagonist, Lance Corporal Schofield (George MacKay), injures his hand on a barbed wire fence. It is not this injury that is cause for the gruesome winces 1917 is sure to induce though, but rather that moment comes a minute or so later when Schofield's mission partner, Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman), knocks into him as the two hurriedly slide into a trench so as to not be spotted by enemy planes overhead. It is in this moment that occurs shortly after the film has set the stage for our expectations of what we might expect war to really feel like that it then shows us the reality of those expectations in turn aiding the audience in realizing that no amount of preparation or precedent could ever prepare one for the true nightmares that are the unspeakable things one human can subject another human to. It is in this quick, but effective moment that remained with me for the duration of the film's nearly two-hour runtime that emphasizes the power of the film in general over the would-be gimmick of the single-take experience in that not only does Mendes' and cinematographer Roger Deakins' technique provide an enticing challenge for seasoned filmmakers such as themselves, but it is in the challenge of balancing that technique with the ability to tap into something real, something raw and something that speaks to who these two men were in their souls that keeps the audience engaged. Successful or not, the technique of it all will largely go unnoticed by general moviegoers and in turn only make the immersion greater even if that general moviegoer isn't aware of what's creating said effect. Mendes and Deakins have proven time and time again they have the skill to pull off exactly what 1917 does, but for them to ultimately have the artistry to pair that craft with the character's drive to simply do the right thing in accomplishing their mission, a mission that will save hundreds of lives, while being surrounded by the ugliness of humanity on that mission is what makes the immersive quality of the single shot idea worth the trouble; the technique elevating the film to something unexpected not in that it is a dazzling technical achievement, but an emotionally involving experience with real stakes and a clear perspective.

Tavern Talk: Video Review - THE GRUDGE

It's been a minute since I've written one of these box-office catch-up columns and that's largely due to the previous two Wednesdays being Christmas day and New Year's day, but here we are-the second Wednesday of the month-and what do we have to talk about? Sony's new re-make of The Grudge? It apparently "topped" studio expectations with $11.4 million on a $10 million budget, but was only able to round out the weekend's top five with nearly all of the weekend's holdovers in that top five dropping less than 40% compared to the previous weekend. Sure, The Grudge made back its production budget in the first weekend, but it will need a good showing from overseas grosses to break even as the flick will essentially be dead in the water in the U.S. after opening weekend. Besides the fact this weekend holds two new wide releases in Like A Boss and Underwater it also holds two pretty big expansions in 1917 and Just Mercy. One can also count on the fact theaters won't be taking out Star Wars, Frozen or Little Women to make room for newcomers, but it will be The Grudge that must say adios. Further, the film's "F" CinemaScore doesn't bode well for future prospects nor does its day-to-day performance over the weekend as it dropped 28% from Friday to Saturday and 42% from Saturday to Sunday. As The Grudge opened at the bottom of the top five last weekend though, lets take a look at what was ahead of it as Disney's domination continued through the final weekend of the holiday break. In the number one spot for the third consecutive week was Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker topping $450 million domestic and over $900 million worldwide with a $33 million domestic haul over the weekend while adding another $50.5 million internationally. In second was the first of three Sony titles in the top five as Jumanji: The Next Level ended its fourth weekend in release with $26.5 million domestic, dropping just -25% from the previous frame, for a domestic cume of $236.2 million as well as another $42.4 million internationally, bringing the overseas total to $374 million for a worldwide tally of $610 million. Little Women continued to have a strong showing in third place as it garnered $13.57 million this weekend bringing the film's domestic total to $60 million after only twelve days of release as the film added $9.5 million internationally for an overseas cume of $20.4 million and a worldwide total nearing $82 million on an estimated budget of $40 million. Meanwhile, in fourth Frozen II officially became the highest grossing animated release of all time reaching $1.325 billion worldwide. As always, be sure to follow the official TAVERN TALK by Initial Reaction YouTube channel as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter where you can find a new review (or reviews) each week! 

THE GRUDGE Review

Andrea Riseborough is the kind of actor who, even in a movie like 2020's re-make/sequel(?) of The Grudge, goes to the extent of having her character sport certain tattoos that are never brought up, but that she probably knows the backstories of which undoubtedly inform some of the character choices she makes even if those tattoos only make it into a handful of shots in the final film. This is kind of the perfect distillation for the ratio of talent involved versus the quality of the final product for this new take on Takashi Shimizu's Ju-On property. Meaning, there is a depth to the writing, directing and acting here (or at least a certain level of credibility) that is lost in the final edit; glimpses of what could have been only showing up in a handful of moments in the final cut. If you've seen writer/director Nicolas Pesce's 2016 feature debut, The Eyes of My Mother then you know the filmmaker is adept at tackling the unsettling and framing it within such an atmosphere that it truly becomes one of those situations where you want desperately to look away, but can't help but to continue to watch for fear of the unknown. Unfortunately, with his latest all one really wants to do is look away and not for fear of missing out on what happens to the film's characters, but because we largely don't care about what's happening to them in the first place. As stated, there are hints at reasons as to why we might be inclined to care about any one of the recognizable faces on screen and the peril they're facing whether it be John Cho and Betty Gilpin's plight as new parents, Frankie Faison and Lin Shaye grappling with mortality or Riseborough and Demián Bichir coming face to face with their fears, but the screenplay spreads these scenarios and characters so thin with such disparate connections to one another that it's difficult to become invested in any of them and easier to simply give up on all of them. Besides the fact no one was necessarily asking for another installment from this franchise there seems to be no particular motivation even from Pesce's script to try and tap into the core idea of what the curse at the heart of The Grudge is really about; a curse that is born when someone dies in the grip of extreme rage. Shimizu's original short films, like this new version, operated as seemingly unconnected vignettes that are pulled together by police investigating the various, strange events, but whatever it was that made those original films launch the franchise The Grudge has become today has been lost in translation in this latest iteration.

First Trailer for A QUIET PLACE PART II

Happy New Years! To celebrate, as promised, Paramount has released the full trailer for John Krasinski’s upcoming sequel, A Quiet Place Part II. The what-is-suspected-to-be unnecessary sequel picks up right after the events of the first film and follows the Abbott family as they venture into the unknown and discover that there are more than alien monsters threatening their lives. I act cynical, but have enough goodwill for both Krasinski and his wife/star Emily Blunt that I'm rooting for them to pull this off. As for the trailer itself, Krasinski immediately shows off that he still has the goods with what looks to be a single take trip through the small town where the Abbott family lived on the day this alien invasion began as the shot concludes with as harrowing a moment as could seemingly be conjured. From here, we are brought into the moments immediately following the events of the first film AKA the moments when Blunt's now widowed Evelyn is attempting an escape from their once safe quarters with her two older children (the returning Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe) and new infant which seems to instantly prove more difficult than expected. It's difficult to tell where exactly Krasinski is taking these characters in this new film (he is solely credited as the screenwriter with others only receiving character credits) though this teaser would suggest that the other humans outside of the world of the first film will be just as much the enemy of our heroes as the aliens are. I'm also somewhat cautious to be too "in the bag" for this sequel due simply to the fact that the first film came out of nowhere and was successful largely due to the hook of its elevator pitch yet this first trailer for the second film shatters the core of that pitch by having more dialogue in its two minutes than the entirety of the first film featured; the fear being this film will inevitably become a riff on something akin to The Walking Dead or Spielberg's War of the Worlds than it will be an equally clever take on the same premise of the first film. Again, I'm rooting for it, but I would be lying if I said there wasn't some serious hesitation towards the film especially considering A Quiet Place was one of my favorite films of 2018. All shall be revealed shortly as A Quiet Place Part II opens on March 20, 2020 and also features supporting turns from the likes of Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou.