MEAN GIRLS Review

This Trip back to North Shore High Justifies itself by still being Sharp in its Observations of Vacuousness.

ORIGIN Review

Director Ava DuVernay Adapts Isabel Wilkerson's nonfiction book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents and takes us on a journey of global investigation and discovery.

THE IRON CLAW Review

Director Sean Durkin Takes the Epic Tragedies and Triumphs of the Von Erich Family and Crafts a Devastating Story around Placing Your Convictions in the Wrong People.

AMERICAN FICTION Review

Writer/Director Cord Jefferson’s Feature Debut Splits the Difference Between Searing Satire and Emotional Family Drama Coming out a Winner in Both Respects.

POOR THINGS Review

Emma Stone is Daring and Mark Ruffalo is Hilarious in this Surreal Fever Dream of Philosophy and Attempting to Understand our Nature through Unorthodox Methods.

Tavern Talk: Video Review - DUNE


The big question going into last weekend was not whether Dune deserved for people to show up to it or not, but more...would they? It had widely become known that Warner Bros. attempt to adapt Frank Herbert's 1965 sci-fi epic would be a tale of two halves from director Denis Villenueve (Prisoners, Sicario, Arrival) as past attempts at adapting the material, namely David Lynch's 1984 film, had all fallen on troubled times and disappointing outcomes. Would the bold move to only make the first half of the book into a movie and then wait and see if there was enough reason to make a second pay off or would this simply turn out to be another chapter in the long, hard road of bringing Herbert's worlds to life? Well, as of this week it looks like the gamble may have paid off as WB and Legendary officially greenlit Dune Part 2 as the film pulled in a not great, but probably better than expected $40.1 million domestic debut. This was the latest in WB's string of major releases this year that also premiered on HBO Max on the same day, but it seemed at least $40 million worth of folks had been listening to Villenueve for the past ten or so months as the filmmaker has been championing seeing his film in the most immersive environment possible since WB and HBO announced their collaboration last December. The catch with both the day-and-date streaming choice and how it might have impacted the ultimate decision as to whether or not a sequel could be justified is the fact Villenueve's movie cost a hefty $165 million. Villenueve is no stranger to large-scale sci-fi films that are well-reviewed and look gorgeous, but are questionable financial endeavors as his Blade Runner 2049 carried a $150 million price tag but made just less than $260 million worldwide (and that's not counting what was no doubt a costly marketing campaign). The good news is that Dune has already made $182 million internationally for a cumulative worldwide box office that currently stands at $223 million and will seemingly only continue to make strong returns overseas as HBO Max is not available in all territories. Questions over that simultaneous debut on a streaming platform and how that might cut into theatrical ticket sales were reignited again with the release of Dune, but have seemingly calmed with the announcement of Part 2 moving forward. Despite a lengthy runtime (meaning less showings, especially in the age of COVID where theater hours are limited on weekdays) the film managed to land a $9,721 per-screen average in 4,125 theaters in its debut weekend. It should also be noted that Dune’s release marked WB's best three-day tally since it began its day-and-date roll-out strategy with Godzilla vs. Kong back in April. Furthermore,  IMAX accounted for $9 million of the film’s domestic gross. 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 - HALLOWEEN KILLS


With the likes of Venom and James Bond taking back the limelight that has evaded the movie industry for the better part of two years and with it now being mid-October it was time Michael Myers was afforded his time to shine. Director David Gordon Green's Halloween Kills, the twelfth film in the franchise overall and the direct sequel to Green's 2018 reboot AKA "HallowGreen", straight-up murdered the rest of the competition in its first weekend with a $50.4 million debut. This strong showing was especially impressive considering the sequel also premiered on Peacock (the NBC streaming service) the same day. The latest chapter in the horror franchise, again featureing THE Scream Queen in Jamie Lee Curtis, also had a notable showing this past weekend as it scored the highest-grossing opening weekend for a day-and-date premiere (meaning a simultaneous release in theaters and on streaming), as it beat out Godzilla vs. Kong’s $31.6 million opening back in March. Of course, not all new releases welcomed good news as the first of two major Ridley Scott releases this fall, The Last Duel, was essentially dead on arrival bringing in only $4.8 million on a reported $100 million budget. Maybe this shouldn't be surprising given it is a two and a half hour historical drama, but it was also touted as and is the first time Matt Damon and Ben Affleck have collaborated on a writing project since Good Will Hunting and one might think after venturing out for Bond last weekend that older moviegoers might be more inclined to begin giving this year's Oscar bait a chance. Where films like The Last Duel were once the highest form of and most respected Hollywood production they have now been usurped by the prestige TV drama and/or miniseries with movie theaters being dominated by the sequels and shared universes. Enter Halloween Kills which, when broken down, had a $13,589 per-screen average resulting in that $50.4 million haul that, while not reaching the $76.2 million domestic debut of its predecessor, is still considered a big hit given the caveats of its day and date premiere as well as the film's rather warm critical reception. The harsher reception was not only true with critics though as the film received a surprisingly low "B-" CinemaScore grade from opening weekend audiences as well. Internationally, the film earned $5.5 million, bringing its one-week worldwide total to $55.9. While unlikely to match 2018’s $255 million global haul Halloween Kills will still make more than enough profit for Jason Blum and Universal to feel good about next year's trilogy-capper in Halloween Ends. 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 - NO TIME TO DIE


With four year in between Quantum of Solace and Skyfall and now six years between Spectre and No Time to Die there seems no denying that the time has come for Daniel Craig to lay his Bond to rest. That isn't to say the movies have become tired or arduous to get through, but more that Craig's time as the suave British agent has been through a lot and the guy - if not the character - needs a break. Originally set to open in April of 2020, barely a month after the world seemingly shut down due to the COVID pandemic, Craig's official final chapter in the long-running 007 franchise finally arrived on the big screen last weekend. And? You might ask. Well, the film continued to do great business overseas, where it opened a week earlier than in the States - per usual - but one might be overselling it if they were to say MGM/Universal or the Broccoli/Wilson brain trust who own the rights to Ian Fleming's novels and the James Bond character were "thrilled" with the domestic opening. With a $56 million opening weekend ($62 million counting a rather strong Monday showing over Columbus/Indig. Peoples' Day) the ambitious (and lengthy) blockbuster both fell short of expectations while still managing to be one of the biggest openings of 2021. All that to say that after two weeks, the film has pulled in $259 million overseas making its current worldwide box-office a "fine" $326.4 million.  Of course, the aforementioned COVID-19 pandemic still bears part of the blame for this underwhelming opening even as Delta variant surges begin to plateau in many areas throughout the country given a large number of the franchise’s longtime fans are older and more cautious about returning to theaters. In fact, MGM internal polling is said to have shown that No Time to Die marked the first trip back to theaters for 25% of its audience since the pandemic began. Craig's previous two installments opened big with Spectre pulling in $70.4 million in 2015 while Skyfall is the series’ biggest opener ever with $88.4 million in 2012. Granted, neither of those films were catching a film industry on the rebound from nearly eighteen months of theater closures and release date shuffles, but it seems No Time to Die's debut will still be considered disappointing at least for the time being. With some time and perspective things could shake out in favor of Craig's swan song (pun intended), but with a $250 million price tag and a massive marketing campaign, the movie will need to make up for that lengthy running time and therefore limited number of showings with repeat viewers and a big opening in China when it debuts there on October 29th. None of this is completely out of the realm of possibility as China is known for being one of the bigger markets for Bond and the film did earn an 84% "fresh" rating from critics and an 88% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.  As always, we'll see! For now, 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 - VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE


It seems it will be as tough for me to keep this post coming on a regular basis as it has been for the box office to establish some type normalcy, but hopefully this first week in October means promising signs for the both of us. After Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings opened with a bang at the beginning of September it seemed as if everyone else knew to clear out for the latest character's introduction into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe as the film eared north of $75 million in its opening weekend and has gone on to sit at $389 million worldwide after a month in release. Last week saw the first real competition for the MCU title in the adaptation of the hit Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen, but with a quaint $7 million debut and adding less than $2.5 million this weekend, equaling more than a 65% drop, the PG-13-rated musical starring Ben Platt has earned only $11.8 million on a $25 million budget. The film has yet to open overseas, but it's hard to imagine this playing out in any fashion other than a disappointing one. What gives October reason to look on the bright side though, is the fact Venom: Let There Be Carnage kicked off the month by shattering all previous pandemic-era records with a $90.1 million domestic debut. One might even be so bold as to say that the debut of the Venom sequel combined with the October slate ahead makes a seriously strong case the Hollywood tentpole is finally back. And while Venom is not technically part of the MCU the follow-up to the 2018 original that also did surprisingly robust business and outperformed that predecessor’s $80.2 million debut definitely put up some MCU-sized stats. The original film ended up grossing $213.5 domestically and $856.1 million worldwide which was surprising to even the most seasoned of box office prognosticators, but even with that information Venom 2’s record-setting $90.1 million debut in a post-pandemic world blew past expectations as it did the unusual these days by also bypassing streaming and VOD services. To break it down further, Venom 2 had a $21,325 per-screen average in its opening weekend which is pretty astonishing as well as adding $13.8 million internationally bringing its global box-office total to $103.9 million after a single weekend. In other new release news, the United Artists’ animated sequel The Addams Family 2 also bested expectations, debuting to $18 million while also being available on premium VOD for $19.99. The much-anticipated Sopranos prequel, The Many Saints of Newark, opened in fourth place as Warner Bros.’ Tony Soprano origin story starring the son of the show’s late star James Gandolfini, accrued only $5 million domestically, but the fact it also premiered simultaneously on HBO Max undoubtedly took some of the business away from the big screen. 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!