Editorial Movie News

The Bottom Line: Apr. 08, 2016: “So You Wanna be Hardcore?”

Hardcore Henry

Quick Takes

Even though Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice held on to the box office’s number one spot, the film suffered a humiliating drop off in ticket sales. Zootopia and My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 stayed locked into the second and third positions with mild drops to their respective weekend grosses. A pair of Christian-faith-based pictures rounded out the top five, with God’s Not Dead 2 barely beating out Miracles from Heaven for fourth place.

Box Office Top Five

For the second weekend in a row, Batman v Superman: Dawn of misinterpreting Justice League characters reigned supreme. The film brought in a disappointing $51,335,254, down a whopping 69.1% from the previous weekend (62.9% if you exclude the $27.7 million from Thursday previews). To put it into perspective, only three other films with $100 million opening weekends have had steeper drop offs. The anthropomorphic cast of Zootopia just keeps on attracting audiences; Disney’s tale of animated law-enforcement hijinks came in second, bringing in $19,325,291 (down just 19.6% from last week). My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 finished in third place, earning $11,218,055 (down 37.2%). In fourth place is God’s Not Dead 2, which grossed a disappointing $7,623,662. Back in 2014, the series’ first installment, God’s Not Dead’s opening weekend grossed $9,217,013 while playing in 1639 fewer theatres. Miracles from Heaven’s $7,255,566 (down 25.2%) box office take  landed it in fifth place, finishing a scant $368,096 behind its faith-based competition, God’s not Dead 2.

Here is a look at a few films that are opening on April 08.

Demolition (R) 100 mins.

For the past several years, director Jean-Marc Vallée’s star has remained on the rise. His past two films, Dallas Buyer’s Club (2013) and Wild (2014), are both critical darlings (93% and 90% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes respectively). The combined adoration for Vallée’s last two pictures lead to a plethora of Oscar and SAG award nominations. Unfortunately, Vallée’s latest picture, Demolition, is not the film to keep the critical love-fest going.

Demolition has all the elements of a quintessential Oscar-bait film; Jake Gyllenhaal headlining a star-studded cast, a heart-breaking story about dealing with loss, and it was chosen as the opening night gala presentation that kicked off the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. I screened the film back at TIFF, and while it’s a decent enough picture with some solid performances, there is a tonal awkwardness that will prevent it from entering this December’s “best-of-the-year” conversations. Essentially, Demolition is a quality film, and thoroughly enjoyable as long as you temper your expectations going in. Right now it looks like critics are on the fence about how to view this picture, Demolition is sitting at a middling 51% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Hardcore Henry (R) 96 mins.

Now here’s a movie that I’m really looking forward to. Hardcore Henry played at TIFF last year (at the time it was simply titled Hardcore), and I was disappointed that my schedule didn’t allow me to make it to one of the film’s screenings. At the time, there was a definite buzz about the picture, however, much of the conversations surrounding the film weren’t promising. Most of the people I spoke to didn’t like the film at all, each critic chiming in with Stepford Wife-like conformity, “it’s too much like a video game.” I’m a fan of filmmaking — I can enjoy technical precision as much as a strong performance or well-crafted screenplay — and I’m looking forward to experiencing Hardcore Henry as a feat of gonzo storytelling as well as dissecting the precision of its special effects. I also realise that I stand in the vast minority on this one; I marvel at well-executed tracking shots with the awe of a Belieber gazing into Justin’s dreamy eyes.

Hardcore Henry takes the first-person perspective found in many found-footage films and injects it with the spectacle and bombast of large-scale action movies (think of 2012’s superhero found-footage flick, Chronicle). As VR headsets begin trickling into the hands of mainstream audiences, a demand for new ways of experiencing movies will arise. Hardcore Henry is a baby-step towards the future of cinematic storytelling. However, consider yourselves warned, not everyone can sit through this film’s balls to the wall, in-your-face, shakycam-style action without falling victim to motion sickness.

The Invitation (N/A) 100 mins.

For the past several months, The Invitation has repeatedly shown up on my pop culture radar. Discussing this particular film places me in a tricky predicament. Much like The Gift, Midnight Special, or You’re Next, in order to get the most out of this picture you should go in knowing as few details as possible (I understand that you could also say this about bigger films like Terminator 2: Judgement Day). The aforementioned films all have shocking plot twists, and what separates them from movies with larger budgets is that you’re not going to see a The Invitation preview pop up during The Brothers Grimsby’s run at your local multi-plex. This movie also has the backing of Drafthouse Films, a distributor with an exceptional track record of curating indie and genre cinema.

The Bottom Line

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was an unstoppable juggernaut during its opening weekend. Prior to the film’s release, advance reviews uniformly doled out critical smack-downs, and yet, Batman v Superman went on to rake in $166,007,347. Pundit’s suggestions that audiences skip this film proved as ineffectual as spitting out a forest fire. However, this past weekend’s box office numbers revealed Batman v Superman’s actual kryptonite: word of mouth.

All the critical backlash in the world doesn’t mean a thing to Warner Bros. if their film turns a ridiculous profit (which it managed to do). But, add a divided fan base to the barrage of criticism, and the studio’s ears begin to perk up. Last weekend’s drop in ticket sales means moviegoers told their friends to take a pass on this picture, and withholding cash from rapacious studio’s is the surest way that disenfranchised audiences get heard. Now that Batman v Superman’s embarrassing financial drop-off slapped Warner Bros. back to reality, don’t be surprised to hear that the studio intends to course-correct their upcoming slate of DC movies.

Most Looking Forward To:

The Jungle Book (Apr. 15), Green Room (Apr. 15), Men & Chicken (Apr. 22), Keanu (Apr. 29), Captain America: Civil War (May 6).

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About the author

Victor Stiff

Born and raised in Toronto, Victor has spent the past decade using his love and knowledge of the city to highlight and promote significant cultural events such as TIFF, The IIIFA awards, and the Anokhi Gala. He is an avid reader of Sci-fi and Horror and constantly sits through indie film marathons in rabid anticipation of the genre’s next great film auteurs. He also contributes sci-fi and fantasy movie reviews to www.zone-six.net

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