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About Webslinger

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    Box Office Gold

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  1. I'm still amazed that The Revenant did so well. Even with Leo's track record, a moody, violent, two-and-a-half-hour drama is a tough sell. Given all that he endured in the making of the film, I also get why DiCaprio has taken a long hiatus since then. As for Jurassic World: a retention rate in line with that of Fate of the Furious after Furious 7 wouldn't be great, but it wouldn't be disastrous. Jurassic World was such a surprise smash that a big drop kinda felt inevitable from the very start.
  2. Webslinger

    Hereditary (2018)

    Count me in the "loved it" camp. Hereditary is a scary film, no doubt; but while its ephemeral scares are effective enough in their own right, its most potent horror lies in its implications about one generation’s potential to destroy another, whether intentionally or not. It’s a tense, eerie experience throughout, and it makes excellent use of provocative, disturbing imagery (particularly a motif that begins with a bird’s head) and expertly-deployed sound design (I never thought glottal clicks could sound so freaky). Its relatively few instances of violence are genuinely unnerving and linger in the memory long after they pass, and the filmmakers use them so sparingly in the first two acts that the nutty events of the third act feel all the more disturbing. The ending is bizarre enough that it will divide audiences, but it feels like a near-perfect conclusion to the horror the grandmother wrought upon her unwitting daughter and grandchildren before her passing prior to the beginning of the film. No stranger to bringing stinging humanity to a supernatural story, Toni Collette delivers searing work in the lead role. She feels entirely believable as someone with a history of detachment (hence the meticulous re-creations of trauma through her miniatures and dollhouses) and pent-up resentment, and she nails a devastating monologue that lays her grief and anger bare. There’s no way Collette will score an Oscar nomination for a small genre film released in the summer, but she deserves to be in the conversation. Alex Wolff is also terrific as her son, who never seems to know how to process the strange events occurring around him; this uncertainty allows his character’s experiences as the film progresses to feel all the more horrifying. And while creepy children feel like a tired cliché of the genre, young actress Milly Shapiro’s is exceptional in her startling low-key creepiness. Hereditary won’t please viewers who expect a more conventional horror film, but for those willing to embrace its approach, it’s unsettling enough to stick in the memory for quite some time after the lights come up. A-
  3. Webslinger

    The Incredibles 2 (2018)

    It’s no small compliment to say that Incredibles 2 mostly lives up to the massive weight of expectations associated with its 14-year wait. It’s not quite in the sublime tier the first film occupies, but it recaptures much of the heart, wit, and visual dynamism that made that film such a delight. As before, the central superhero story feels fresh and intriguingly meta in its consideration of where superheroes should fit within the fabric of society; it also remains easy to read into the titular family and their fellow supers as a subtle but powerful X-Men-eque allegory for oppressed groups. The shifting family dynamics in this sequel work very effectively, often mining effective comedy from Mr. Incredible’s Mr. Mom travails and refreshing pro-feminist derring-do from Elastigirl – whose cleverness and agency get greater attention in this installment. Even Violet’s boy-driven angst – a subplot that doesn’t seem like it should work at first glance – scores both well-earned laughs and moments of surprising tenderness. The villain this time out is not as effective as Syndrome (and the “twist” will be easy for most genre-savvy viewers to piece together ahead of time), but the action sequences are eye-popping and take full advantage of the playful fluidity that animation affords. From beginning to end, it’s clear that everyone involved with this sequel was committed to making it special, and that dedication translates to a thoroughly entertaining experience. Like the first film, I’m sure I’ll end up revisiting it plenty of times over. A- Stray Thoughts: - About that villain... - I can't overstate how surprised and charmed I was with Violet's characterization here. It should be too cliche-riddled to work, but damn if Sarah Vowell's voice work and the writing don't capture her teen angst in a fun, sweet way.
  4. I still really want to see the all-dinosaur cut of The Tree of Life. The tone poem voiceovers would be unlike anything we've ever heard before.
  5. Not bad for Jurassic World. With how shaky the tracking has appeared, retaining over 80% of the previous film's preview audience is a nice turn of events. That said, the previous film's previews were also diluted by the NBA Finals game that aired that night and this one is debuting a couple weeks deeper into the summer schedule, so I definitely don't expect that 80-ish% retention to hold.
  6. Webslinger

    Classic Conversation, now with added Teen Angst

    I just re-watched The Lost World for the first time in... I dunno, 13 years? (I think I watched the Spielberg Jurassics back-to-back right before War of the Worlds opened)... and I've gotta say that I can't unsee Spielberg's comment about Pete Postlethwaite acting with complete conviction that he's definitely on an island hunting dinosaurs. The man was a criminally underrated treasure.
  7. Not gonna sugarcoat it: under 100 would be disastrous for Jurassic World. Even taking into consideration that its predecessor over-performed to an absurd degree, it would be mind-blowing to see the sequel's opening fall under the previous film's second weekend. I had it pegged for a Fate of the Furious-style hold, but all signs are pointing toward something lower.
  8. Webslinger

    Classic Conversation, now with added Teen Angst

    There's not a whole lot they could do when the language of the MPAA states that anyone under 17 accompanied by an adult can get into an R-rated movie. It's horrible parenting to bring an elementary school-aged kid to an ultra-violent R-rated film, yeah, but calling out that horrible parenting isn't going to sway most adults who figure that it's okay to bring their tiny children to adult-oriented fare.
  9. Webslinger

    Classic Conversation, now with added Teen Angst

    Happens all the time where I live: go to any R-rated movie that isn't an art film during the weekend and there will be at least one family with at least one child under the age of 6. There were actually four such kiddos at my screening of Upgrade last weekend.
  10. For what it's worth as a piece of anecdotal evidence, my local pub cinema - which is completely 21+ at all hours - is carrying Incredibles 2 this weekend. It's the first time they've ever carried an animated film. The film is going to play to tons of families, sure, but the original film's reputation and the passage of time mean that it's probably going to pull in a more sizable number of adults (sans accompanying children) than the vast majority of animated films. As such, I don't think you can write off PG-13 tentpoles like Jurassic World and Ant-Man as non-factors in its long-term prospects. I think the word-of-mouth will be strong enough that it will have a leggy run despite the competition it faces (it helps that the last weekend in June looks uncharacteristically weak), but just being animated doesn't make it impervious to other big films that are aiming for audiences that overlap with Incredibles 2's varied demos.
  11. Using Finding Dory's true Friday multiplier with the current projection for Incredibles 2 would put it in the mid-to-high-150s for the weekend. That would be terrific, even with the inflated guesses at its ceiling after the preview number rolled in. Really, more than anything else, I'm happy that it's an enormous hit and not a years-too-late curiosity that didn't really catch on with a new audience. I know this movie seems like such an obvious slam-dunk hit with how well the advertising, reviews, and properly-exploited nostalgia for the first film had lined up, but it wouldn't have broken out like this if Pixar had bungled some major aspect of the film and/or its marketing somewhere along the way.
  12. With a preview number in the same general ballpark and similar cross-generational appeal, I'm hoping Incredibles 2 can swing something near Beauty and the Beast's near-$175 million opening. That said, the summer season is a different beast, so I'm trying not to be too bullish just yet.
  13. Astonishing number for Incredibles 2. It speaks to what a wide demographic net the film is casting.
  14. Webslinger

    Classic Conversation, now with added Teen Angst

    Brie Larson's use of A Wrinkle in Time as an example is over-simplified and reductive, but the core of what she's saying is dead-on: there does need to be more varied representation in professional film criticism.
  15. Solid opening for Ocean's 8. It should hold up fairly well and target a domestic total around $120 million or thereabouts. Solo stabilized a little bit after last weekend's rough hold, but it has huge challenges ahead in the next two weekends. It will surpass $200 million domestically, but not by much. Deadpool 2 had another relatively good hold. After the panic that ensued with its second weekend drop, it's a relief to know that it will cross the $300 million domestic milestone after all. Hereditary opened well. It didn't break out as much as it could have with the near-3,000-theater release, but it's handily A24's biggest opener ever. We'll see how the legs go; prior A24 wide horror releases The Witch and It Comes at Night were polar opposites in staying power, so it's tough to guess where Hereditary is going to land at this point. Avengers continues to show strong late legs, though Incredibles and Jurassic World should combine to put a dent in it. On the worldwide front, it's damn cool to see the film knocking on $2 billion. Adrift got hit harder than I expected. It's a clear enough piece of counter-programming that it could still recover somewhat from here, though. Book Club has already surpassed a 4.0 multiplier with gas left in the tank. It should land in the upper-60s. Hotel Artemis is dead-on-arrival, thanks in no small part to weak marketing that waited too long to get the word out. Nevertheless, its concept and cast make it seem like it's destined to pick up a much wider audience on home video. It's too bad that Upgrade couldn't translate strong reviews and good word-of-mouth to a stronger hold.

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