OLD Review

M. Night Shyamalan Returns to the Big Screen with a Psychological Thriller that is Equal Parts Fascinating and Baffling.

SNAKE EYES Review

Paramount Pictures Once Again Attempts to Jump Start a G.I. Joe Series of Films with what is the Most Generic of Summer Popcorn Flicks.

BLACK WIDOW Review

The First Marvel Cinematic Universe Film in Nearly Two Years Delivers a Rousing Spy Thriller that Should Have Happened Years Ago.

SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY Review

LeBron James Takes up Michael Jordan's Mantle as he Joins the Looney Tunes for an Out of this World Basketball Game that is More Commercial than Entertaining Endeavor.

F9: THE FAST SAGA Review

Vin Diesel's Dominic Toretto and his "Family" Return as does Director Justin Lin for a Ninth Outing that Feels More Pompous than Pleasant.

Tavern Talk: Video Review - SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY


While it was expected that Marvel’s Black Widow would be repeating as the number one film at the box office this weekend the spirit of the NBA Finals apparently made a crossover with movie-going audiences as LeBron James' twenty-five year-later sequel to 1996's Michael Jordan-vehicle, Space Jam, turned out to be a much bigger hit than anyone was expecting. The Warner Bros. property (meaning it began simultaneously streaming on HBO Max on Friday) debuted well ahead of early predictions (most in the $20 million range) with a $31.7 million domestic showing easily giving Space Jam: A New Legacy the biggest opening for a kids-targeted film since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Because the film was also available free of charge to HBO Max subscribers and because it was more or less demolished by critics it seemed the momentum had somewhat stalled for this sequel that I - as someone who loved basketball, Michael Jordan, and movies as a child, was pretty anxiously awaiting - all the more sweet. Is the movie very good? No, not really - it's pretty patchy until it gets to the meat and potatoes of what it was explicitly made to do, but at the same time this is a movie whose critical reception was never going to sway or change the minds of the target audience thus not making it that much of a surprise if not still as impressive that James and the Looney Tunes collected a $7,982 per-screen average in 3,965 theaters. In fact, opening weekend audiences scored the film an ‘A-‘ CinemaScore. Back in '96, the original Space Jam premiered to the "toon" of $27.5 million while going on to gross $90.4 million domestically and $230.4 million worldwide. While it's impossible to know where A New Legacy will end up especially with today's theatrical climate and distribution model constantly shifting and a slew of big, new releases upcoming it should be noted that there is a distinct lack of family-friendly material until maybe Jungle Cruise (though it is PG-13), but more likely until August 20th when Paw Patrol: The Movie premieres as Space Jam would seemingly share a bigger portion of it's audience with that film. In second place, Black Widow suffered a pretty severe -67.3% drop from its first weekend, but while the film has accumulated upwards of $132 million in North America and another $100.7 million from international markets, it has yet to open in Chins where Marvel tends to do big business. For a film that cost an estimated $200 million to produce, is also available on Disney Plus for a $30 charge (where it apparently did very well in its first weekend), and has thus far managed to collect a cumulative worldwide gross of $232.7 million (during a pandemic nonetheless), I don't think it's time to start writing the "Is the MCU dead?" pieces just yet. 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 - BLACK WIDOW


It's been longer than I would have liked since posting one of these updates, essentially the month of June I guess, but now seems as fitting a time as any to dig back into box office, new releases, and new release reviews as Marvel Studios finally revealed Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow solo film to the world over the weekend. Originally set for May of 2020 with much debate over whether or not Disney and in particular, Kevin Feige, would allow the film to go straight to streaming a la Mulan and Raya and the Last Dragon it was finally revealed Black Widow would be arriving in theaters this July. While one could still purchase the movie for a premium price and stream it on Disney+ it felt evident that the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film to hit theaters in what ended up being just shy of two years was something of an event and something most might want to take in on the big screen. That said, Black Widow also faced the unfortunate circumstances of arriving just as many states are seeing a major surge in COVID-19 cases thanks to the much-discussed "delta-variant" that is causing some theaters to reduce their auditorium capacity once again or go back to upholding mask mandates despite returning to somewhat normal operating procedures earlier in the summer movie season. As for how Black Widow actually ended up doing at the box office once it finally premiered...well, the news is largely good for all involved but the caveat of the streaming option is certainly a new fold to be considered (is this the future of major movie releases?). This new layer is brought up as Disney did something rather unexpected this weekend when it - for the first time - released that Disney+ brought in $60 million in additional revenue allowing the Mouse House to claim that the film earned $215 million worldwide over the weekend whereas it actually pulled in $80 million domestic and $158 million worldwide in theaters. Sure, Disney still made all the money and there's an argument to be made for Black Widow having had a $120 million opening weekend, but even at $80 million the latest MCU flick sits as the biggest theatrical release since 2019's Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker beating F9's debut of $70 million just a couple weeks back. The one-two punch of F9 and Black Widow certainly serve as strong incentives to return to the theater and the summer releases only continue to roll from this point on with the long-awaited Space Jam sequel next week, a new M. Night Shyamalan thriller and a G.I. Joe/Snake Eyes origin film the week after that, and yet another Disney tentpole in Jungle Cruise capping off July. 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!