March 6th, 2015 — This week in Film!


Theater Thursdays

Hello again, my fellow lovers of all things geek!

A fair amount of things have happened in the movie world since we last spoke, so let’s do a quick rundown, shall we?

The film version of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY (R 126 Minutes) came out and broke several box-office records including, Highest grossing R rated film released in February, biggest single day gross, and several others that escape my memory at the moment. Let’s just say it did very well. Very very very well, indeed.

Adapting a book that was so filled with sex was always going to be a tough job. The trailers sold the film (for those of us who never read the book) as a romantic film. Sure, the trailers said, there might be some blindfolds, some handcuffs and some soft, sexy play with a whip, but that was later…after their relationship was solid and it wasn’t a big deal, just a part of the story, which at its heart, was the story of a romance between a very rich and good-looking guy and a very shy, reserved and inexperienced young woman.

What viewers got instead was the story of a guy who said bluntly that he didn’t want to have dinner, go to movies, take long walks on the beach or have a normal relationship. All he wanted to do was whip, beat and punish her.

Several female friends who have read all three books have taken pains to tell me that he is a poor soul who doesn’t know how to show intimacy and that the next two book will show him change. All that may be true and is fine and dandy, but the only thing that exists in the film world right now is the first film, and that film is about as insulting to woman as any film I’ve ever seen. I said it before and I’ll say it again, if the film had been written and directed by a man, there would have been protests in the streets, many by the same people who waited in line to see the film as directed by a woman.

What else has happened? Lets see…

The long-delayed JUPITER ASCENDING by the Wachowski siblings finally opened and flamed out pretty quickly. It was an okay film as it was released, but you can almost see the seams where giant pieces of the film were cut out and the remaining pieces were stitched back together. If ever a film cried out for a Directors cut, this one is crying….almost screaming for one.

We also saw the release of what I believe will become an absolute classic: KINGSMAN :THE SECRET SERVICE, the new film from director Mathew Vaughn. Aside from being just an absolute blast of fresh air from start to finish and featuring some of the best action and fight scenes of the last couple of years, it also set up Colin Firth, long a female favorite, as the next Liam Neeson. Like Neeson, he could have a late-life second career as an unlikely action hero.

We are still about a month away from the start of the Summer movie season, which will kick off with the release of FURIOUS 7 on April 4th. That film, the 7th in the FAST AND FURIOUS franchise, marks the last screen appearance of Paul Walker who was killed in a car accident in November 2013.  At the time of his death, Walker still had several weeks of filming left on the film. He had completed all of the films massive action sequences, and had the dramatic scenes left to film. The film shut down production for several weeks while the studio, the producers and writers and the films lead, Vin Diesel, tried to figure out how to proceed.

We will finally know the solution they came up with when the film opens the 2015 Summer season on April 4th.

This week we have three new films opening up, the raunchy comedy UNFINISHED BUSINESS, the gentle art house sequel THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL and the giant question mark that is CHAPPIE.

I say question mark because the marketing for the film has been all over the map. The first trailers made it look like it was going to be a quasi-remake of SHORT CIRCUIT with a slight twist. Then the second wave of trailers hit and it looked more like a cousin of ROBOCOP. It was being sold (and some people still think it is) a sweet family film about a robot finding his humanity and teaching us how to be more human. It is in fact a very HARD R Rated film about….well, a robot finding his humanity. Or something.

At any rate, it should be an interesting weekend to work at the theater (as I do) and talk to people who go see Chappie and find that it’s not the film they thought it was. I’ll let you know how it goes in the next column.

See, that’s what we call a tease for next week….

Until next time, keep the projector threaded.