Well Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation wasn’t the massive hit it could have been, but it still made waves with $55.5 million last weekend. That’s very impressive for a franchise that’s five movies deep and contains no heroes in underpants, fighting robots, or Dwayne Johnson. On the comedic end, audiences mostly ignored the maligned Vacation rehash, with it only earning $14.7 million and likely facing a steep drop off in week two. It’s just reaching that time of year where audiences are worn out from summer movies and need to start focusing on getting back to school. This is the month where studios will dump their “good…but not great” movies that aren’t big enough to be blockbusters and aren’t good enough to be Oscar contenders. For that reason, I worry about this weekends releases.
Fantastic Four – (PG-13) 100 min. – Haven’t we been here twice before? After two crummy Fantastic Four movies that didn’t take themselves too seriously, here is a reboot that looks like it’s all about the grit. Woohoo. I was actually looking forward to this movie when it was first announced. Director Josh Trank made one of the only found-footage style movies I like – Chronicle – so I was pleased he was being given the keys to (what could be) a huge franchise. Then it was announced that the remarkable actor Michael B. Jordan would be playing Johnny Storm and I thought “Woah! That’s pretty progressive and ballsy. But he’s a phenomenal actor so it’s a good move.” But then the trailer came out and…eh. Miles Teller gets a lot of praise in his roles, and I’ve never quite understood why. With the exception of Whiplash, I’ve always found him to be pretty average. However, he’s not what makes Fantastic Four look so dull. It’s that attempt at grittiness and realism that is washed over the images. Everything is browned out and lifeless. Watching the trailer felt like watching Man of Steel again, and I don’t want that. The first two movies may not have been good, but they knew what the mood should have been: light and fun. This looks like a tonal mess.
Ricki and the Flash – (PG-13) 102 min. – Ricki and the Flash? It’s still the summer, so maybe this is some buddy movie about a woman named Ricki teaming up with the DC Comics speedster hero? Nope, it’s some sappy looking movie starring (eventual undeserved Oscar-nominee) Meryl Streep. Directed by Jonathan Demme (who once upon a time made Silence of the Lambs) and written by one-hit wonder Diablo Cody, Ricki and the Flash is the story of a musician (Streep) that gave up her family for a life of rock-and-roll. Now in her later years, Ricki seeks to return to her family and make up for lost time. It’s going to be a feel-good, unoffensive movie that Streep gives her all in, but there won’t be any true substance or wow-factor here. This looks like a filler movie that is only getting a wide release because of Streep.
The Bottom Line – This isn’t an interesting week for new, wide releases. On the other hand, you might want to check out the smaller releases today. Joel Edgerton makes his directorial debut with The Gift, which follows a newly married couple getting harassed by an “old friend” of the husbands. Early reviews are very positive for this suspenseful thriller, so you may want to check it out. Anime fans should also seek out Dragonball Z: Resurrection F, which is only in theaters for a limited run and has been received very well by fans of the series.