Captain America: The Winter Soldier is filled — and I mean jam-packed — with genre-bending, action-heavy, sportily tense and relentlessly sinuous, sky-high-concept and maniacally bonkers stuff. Polygonal mayhem that aims, and impressively so, to top the Marvel lot in ideas, deconstructing every thriller staple from government corruption to talking computers to odd couple agents gone rogue. But oddly enough, the moment in the Cap sequel that I find most arresting several weeks after seeing the film is our peaceful reunion with Steve Rogers, trotting merrily around the Washington Monument as the sun rises on our nation's capital.
The scene is shot from far overhead, a low pulse/high spirits Chris Evans reduced to a shapeless blur as he repeatedly (but politely!) laps fellow jogger and veteran Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie)... and yet it might be the closest we feel to Cap throughout the movie.
The Winter Soldier has a lot to worry about in the delivery of its content. Managing a plot as ambitious and multifaceted as its own, with themes as grand as the scope of the American mentality — as represented by Steve Rogers, raised in the good old days of gee-golly-jingoism — it doesn't always have the faculties to devote to humanizing its central troupe. Cap isn't left hollow, but his battles with the dark cloud of contemporary skepticism play more like an intriguing Socratic discussion than an emotional arc. Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, a character who ran circles around her Avengers co-players in flavor, feels a bit shortchanged in that department here (in her closest thing to a starring role yet, no less).
Mackie's Falcon, a regular joe who is roped into the calamity thanks largely to his willingness to chat with a fellow runner — a rare skill, honestly — is less of a problem. He doesn't have much to do, but he does it all well enough. Dynamic though he may be, Mackie keeps things bridled as Cap's ad-hoc sidekick, playing up the along-for-the-ride shtick rather than going full (or even half) superhero. We might want more from him, knowing just how fun he can be, but it's a sating dose. The real hunger is for more in the way of Black Widow, Cap, and — perhaps most of all — the titular villain.
Still, these palpable holes pierce through a film that gets plenty right. As elegantly as Joe Johnston did the Spielberg thing back in 2011, Joe and Anthony Russo take on the ballots of post-innocence. They aren't afraid to get wild and weird, taking The Winter Soldier through valleys that feel unprecedented in superhero cinema. We're grateful for the invention here — for Robert Redford's buttoned-up Tom Clancy villain, for the directors' aggressive tunneling through a wide underworld of subterranean corruption, and especially for one scene in an army bunker that amounts to the most charmingly bats**t crazy reveal in any Marvel movie yet. We might be most grateful, though, for a new take on Nick Fury; here, the franchise gives Samuel L. Jackson his best material by a mile.
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But in the absence of definitive work done in our heroing couple, a pair rich in fibers but relegated to broad strokes and easy quips in this turn, most of it amounts to a fairly good spy thriller, not an ace-in-the-whole neo-superhero masterpiece... which, justly or otherwise, is what we've come to expect and demand from these things.
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It was a freaky weekend at the box office this weekend as the horror parody Scary Movie 3 helped moviegoers get into the spirit of Halloween--to the tune of $21.1 million*, making it the No. 1 film for the second consecutive week. But sandwiched between the slasher spoof Scary Movie 3 and the limb hacker pic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which came in third with a gory $10.9 million, was a little animated tale called Brother Bear."Brother Bear totally capitalized on a marketplace devoid of family films," Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations told The Associated Press Sunday. "There's always an opportunity where there's a scarcity of product for a particular segment of the audience." The Disney film opened Saturday with a burly $18.4 million, an impressive debut compared to the Mouse House's recent animated features. Although Brother Bear didn't premiere as strongly as the Buena Vista/Disney and Pixar Animation Studios collaboration Finding Nemo, which netted $70.2 million when it hit theaters in May, it surpassed the openings of other Disney pics this year, including Piglet's Big Movie ($6 million) and The Jungle Book 2 ($11.4 million).The lone film to open wide this weekend, Brother Bear was also the only new addition to this week's box office Top Ten. The feel good drama Radio came in fourth with $10.2 million, while the John Grisham thriller Runaway Jury rounded out the Top Five with $6.8 million. The Human Stain, starring Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman, opened in limited release with an impressive $1.2 million, while the re-release of the digitally remastered Alien: The Director's Cut, which boasts six minutes of never-before-seen footage, opened in select cities to the pulsating tune of $ 1 million. THE TOP TENDimension Films' PG-13 rated spoof Scary Movie 3 reigned in the No. 1 spot for the second week with an ESTIMATED $21.1 million (-56%) in 3,505 theaters (unchanged; $6,020 per theater). Its cume is approximately $78.6 million. Directed by David Zucker, it stars Anna Faris, Charlie Sheen, Simon Rex, Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, George Carlin and Leslie Nielsen.Buena Vista's G rated animated film Brother Bear, which opened Saturday, debuted in second place with an ESTIMATED $18.5 million in 3,028 theaters with a $6,119 per theater average--the highest of any film playing wide this week.Set against the majestic natural splendor of the Great American Northwest, the film tells the story of a boy whose life takes an unexpected turn when he is transformed into a bear.Directed by Aaron Blaise and Bob Walker, it features the voices of Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Suarez, D.B. Sweeney and Michael Clarke Duncan.New Line Cinema's R rated horror remake The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, slipped from second place to third in its third week with an ESTIMATED $10.9 million (-25%) in 2,970 theaters (-48 theaters; $3,670 per theater). Its cume is approximately $66.1 million.Directed by Marcus Nispel, it stars Jessica Biel, Eric Balfour, Mike Vogel, Erica Leerhsen and Andrew Bryniarski.Sony Pictures' PG-13 rated drama Radio dropped one notch to fourth place in its second week with an ESTIMATED $10.2 million (-23%) in 3,074 theaters (unchanged, $3,318 per theater). Its cume is approximately $26.8 million.Directed by Michael Tollin, it stars Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Ed Harris.Twentieth Century Fox's PG-13 rated courtroom thriller Runaway Jury fell one position to No. 5 in its third week with an ESTIMATED $6.8 million (-19%) in 2,736 theaters (-79; $2,507per theater). Its cume is approximately $33.6 million. Directed by Gary Fleder, it stars John Cusack, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman and Rachel Weisz.Warner Bros.' R rated drama Mystic River fell from its No. 5 position to sixth in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $6.2 million (-19%) in 1,551 theaters (+58 theaters; $4,046 per theater). Its cume is approximately $33.5 million.Directed by Clint Eastwood, it stars Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Laura Linney and Marcia Gay Harden.*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.Miramax Films' R rated gory actioner Kill Bill Vol. 1, held steady in seventh place in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $4.7 million (-26%) in 2,429 theaters (-204 theaters, $1,939 per theater). Its cume is approximately $60.9 millionDirected by Quentin Tarantino, it stars Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox, Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah and David Carradine.Paramount Pictures' PG-13 rated comedy School of Rock, dropped two positions to No. 8 in its eighth week with an ESTIMATED $4.4 million (-33%) in 2,786 theaters (-165 theaters; $1,579 per theater). Its cume is approximately $69.1 million.Directed by Richard Linklater, it stars Black, Joan Cusack and Michael White.Universal Pictures' PG 13 rated romantic comedy Intolerable Cruelty held on to its No. 9 position in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $2.6 million (-27%) in 1,661 theaters (-629 theaters, $1,600 per theater). Its cume is approximately $32 million.Produced by Ethan Coen and directed by Joel Coen, it stars George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones.Screen Gems' R rated erotic thriller In the Cut expanded in its second week to place tenth with an ESTIMATED $2.3 million at 825 theaters (+819 theaters, $2,788 per theater). Its cume is approximately $2.4 million. In the film, Meg Ryan plays a self-determined NYU professor who, following the brutal murder of a young woman in her neighborhood, tests the limits of her own safety by entering into a risky sexual liaison with a detective. Directed by Jane Campion, it stars Ryan, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Nick Damici.OTHER OPENINGSMiramax's R rated drama The Human Stain debuted in 160 theaters with an ESTIMATED $1.1 million. Its $7,025 per theater average was the highest of any film playing this week. The film stars Anthony Hopkins as a man who, throughout his life, has been a master of deception and self-reinvention. Years later, when he becomes an esteemed professor, false accusations ruin his career.Directed by Robert Benton, it stars Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris, Gary Sinise and Wentworth Miller.Twentieth Century Fox's R rated sci-fi thriller Alien: The Director's Cut opened in 347 theaters with an ESTIMATED $1 million, with a $2,997 per theater average. In the film, a re-release of director Ridley Scott's 1979 film, seven crewmembers of the commercial ship Nostromo are awakened from their cryo-sleep capsules halfway through their journey home to investigate an S.O.S. distress call from an alien vessel.Directed by Scott, it stars Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto.WEEKEND COMPARISON The Top 12 films this weekend grossed an ESTIMATED $91.9 million, down 23.16 percent from last weekend's $119.5 million. The Top 12 movies were also down 8.94 percent from this time last year when they took in $100.9 million.Last year, Buena Vista's G rated The Santa Clause 2 debuted in the No. 1 position with $29 million in 3,350 theaters ($8,659 per theater); DreamWorks' R rated thriller The Ring stayed at No. 2 in its third week with $18.1 million in 2,808 theaters ($6,452 per theater); and Sony's PG-13 rated I Spy opened in third with $12.7 million in 3,182 theaters ($4,008 per theater).
Go to our Box Office section for recent weekend movie analysis.
It was very Scary at the box office this pre-Halloween weekend.
Scary Movie 3, which spoofs horror films such as The Ring and Signs, crop-circled the competition and took the top spot with a record $49.7 million*, knocking last week's winner Texas Chainsaw Massacre down to No. 2 with $14.7 million.
Things just keep getting better and better for the Scary Movie franchise. The third installment surpassed its predecessors--Scary Movie opened in 2000 with $42.3 million, while Scary Movie 2 opened in 2002 with $20.5 million--and broke the record for the best October opening ever, beating reigning champ Red Dragon, which opened in 2002 at $36.5 million. Scary 3 is also the seventh best opener so far this year.
The feel-good movie Radio opened strongly in third place with $14 million, while courtroom drama Runaway Jury came in fourth with $8.4 million. Clint Eastwood's Mystic River rounded out the top five with $7.6 million.
As the other wide release opening this week, the Angelina Jolie romantic epic Beyond Borders didn't manage to make it to the top 10, bringing in a tepid $2 million.
THE TOP TEN
Dimension Films' PG-13 rated spoof-o-rama Scary Movie 3 triumphed in the No. 1 spot with an ESTIMATED $49.7 million in 3,505 theaters. Its $14,189 per theater average was the highest of the films playing wide this week.
The Scary Movie horror spoof franchise goes for a third round, this time taking shots at Signs, The Ring, The Matrix Reloaded and, strangely enough, 8 Mile.
Directed by David Zucker, it stars Anna Faris, Charlie Sheen, Simon Rex, Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, George Carlin and Leslie Nielsen.
Last week's champ, New Line Cinema's R rated horror The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, dropped from the top spot to take second place with an ESTIMATED $14.7 million (-48%) in 3,018 theaters (+2 theaters; $4,879 per theater). The horror remake's cume is approximately $51.1 million.
Directed by Marcus Nispel, it stars Jessica Biel, Eric Balfour, Mike Vogel, Erica Leerhsen and Andrew Bryniarski.
Sony Pictures' PG-13 rated tearjerker Radio debuted in the third spot with an ESTIMATED $14 million in 3,074 theaters, averaging $4,554 per theater.
Inspired by a true story, the film is the tale of a mentally challenged young man nicknamed Radio and the high school football coach who takes him under his wing, onto the bench and into his classroom.
Directed by Michael Tollin, it stars Cuba Gooding, Jr.. and Ed Harris.
Twentieth Century Fox's PG-13 rated courtroom thriller Runaway Jury fell to No. 4 in its second week with an ESTIMATED $8.4 million (-29%) in 2,815 theaters (unchanged; $2,993 per theater). This latest John Grisham adaptation has taken in $24 million so far.
Directed by Gary Fleder, it stars John Cusack, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman and Rachel Weisz.
Warner Bros.' R rated drama Mystic River once again rounded out the Top Five in its third week with an ESTIMATED $7.6 million (-27%) in 1,493 theaters (+3 theaters; $5,094 per theater). Its cume is approximately $24.5 million.
Directed by Clint Eastwood, it stars Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Laura Linney and Marcia Gay Harden.
*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
Paramount Pictures' PG-13 rated comedy School of Rock, dropped two positions to No. 6 in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $6.5 million (-41%) in 2,951 theaters (unchanged; $2,203 per theater). Its cume is approximately $63.3 million.
Directed by Richard Linklater, it stars Black, Joan Cusack and Michael White.
Miramax Films' R rated Kill Bill Vol. 1, fell a considerable way from last week's second place to seventh in its third week with an ESTIMATED $5.9 million (-52%) in 2,633 theaters (-469 theaters, $2,271 per theater). Its cume is approximately $53.6 million
Directed by Quentin Tarantino, it stars Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox, Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah and David Carradine.
MGM's PG rated canine comedy Good Boy! dropped two spots to come in eighth in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $4.8 million (-46%) in 2,762 theaters (-463 theaters; $1,756 per theater). Its cume is approximately $31.8 million.
Directed by John Hoffman, it stars Liam Aiken and the vocal talents of Matthew Broderick, Brittany Murphy, Carl Reiner and Vanessa Redgrave as the dog Hubble and his four-legged friends.
Universal Pictures' PG 13 rated romantic comedy Intolerable Cruelty slipped two rungs to place No. 9 in its third week with an ESTIMATED $3.5 million (-45%) in 2,290 theaters (-280 theaters, $1,560 per theater). Its cume is approximately $28.1 million.
Produced by Ethan Coen and directed by Joel Coen, it stars George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Buena Vista's PG-13 rated romantic comedy Under the Tuscan Sun rounded out the top 10 in its fifth week with an ESTIMATED $2.2 million (-34%) in 1,224 theaters (-439 theaters; $1,811 per theater). Its cume is approximately $37.1 million.
Directed by Audrey Wells, it stars Diane Lane, Sandra Oh, Vincent Riotta and Raoul Bova.
Paramount Pictures' PG-13 rated Beyond Borders premiered with an ESTIMATED $2 million in 1,798 theaters, averaging $1,112 per theater.
This romantic tale between a disaster relief doctor and a philanthropic socialite spans several years against an ever-changing backdrop of war.
Directed by Martin Campbell, it stars Angelina Jolie and Clive Owen.
Fine Line's R rated Elephant opened with an ESTIMATED $90,000 in six theaters, averaging $15,000 per theater.
This year's Canne Festival's Palme d'Or winner, Elephant is about high school violence that unfolds on an ordinary school day inside an American high school, filled with schoolwork, football, gossip and socializing. For each student we meet, high school is a different experience: stimulating, friendly, traumatic, lonely, hard.
Directed by Gus Van Sant, it stars a cast of newcomers including Alex Frost, Eric Deulen and John Robinson.
Screen Gems R rated In the Cut and Disney's animated Brother Bear both opened in limited theaters this weekend before expanding wide next week. The erotic thriller In the Cut, starring Meg Ryan, took in an ESTIMATED $95,000 in six theaters, averaging $15,833 per theater while the delightful tale Brother Bear wowed 'em with an ESTIMATED $285,026 in two theaters, averaging $142,513 per theater.
The Top 12 films this weekend grossed an ESTIMATED $121 million, up a healthy 17.32 percent from last weekend's $103.2 million. The Top 12 movies were also up 39 percent from this time last year when they took in $86.9 million.
Last year, Paramount's R rated Jackass: The Movie was the hit of the week, debuting with $22.7 million in 2,509 theaters ($9,073 per theater); Dreamworks' R rated thriller The Ring dropped to No. 2 with $18.4 million in 2,634 theaters ($7,019 per theater); Warner's R rated Ghost Ship opened in third with $11.5 million in 2,787 theaters ($4,128 per theater).
Australia's statistics agency is experiencing firsthand the power of film in faith and culture. The Australian Bureau of Statistics said Tuesday that more than 70,000 Star Wars fans had written "Jedi" or something related in response to an optional question about their faith during last year's national census. Jedi, of course, is a mythical faith followed by some of the characters in George Lucas' Star Wars films. According to The Associated Press, the prank started last year when Star Wars fans circulated an e-mail throughout Australia, saying the government would be forced to recognize Jedi as an official religion if at least 10,000 people named it on the census. The bureau, however, isn't laughing. After finding out about the campaign, the statistics agency announced that respondents may face a fine of 1,000 Australian dollars (the equivalent of $540 US) fine for providing false information.
Roseanne is seeking to legally reinstate her full maiden name, City News Service reports. The actress/comedian--who became a single-name star after her 1994 divorce from her second husband, Tom Arnold--is currently involved in a divorce action from her third husband, former bodyguard Benjamin Thomas. According to court papers, Roseanne now wants to be known as Roseanne Cherri Barr, "which is more recognized in the entertainment industry."
Lions Gate Films plans to release Rob Zombie's controversial horror flick House of 1000 Corpses in the first quarter of 2003, Variety reports. Originally, Universal Pictures had slated the movie for release last summer, but Zombie was forced to buy it back from the studio after Universal executives refused to release the film because of its "visceral tone and intensity." MGM was at one time in talks to pick up the film, but backed out of the deal a few days after Zombie let slip that negotiations were underway during an interview on MTV's Movie House.
Actor Michael Madsen, otherwise known as Reservoir Dogs' Mr. Blonde, no longer will need to raise $12 million through a British tax scheme to finance his UK heist pic Red Light Runners, Variety reports. Germany's Fierce Entertainment has inked a deal that secures 70 percent of the picture's funding and guarantees shooting will start as scheduled in November. Runners stars Madsen, Minnie Driver, Vinnie Jones and Martin Kemp.
Actress Kelly Preston has joined the cast of Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Pictures' Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat. Directed by Bo Welch, the film is set to begin production this fall, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Cat in the Hat stars Mike Myers as the mischievous feline.
Rapper Ludacris has joined the cast of Universal Pictures' The Fast and the Furious 2 for director John Singleton, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Ludacris will play Taj, a friend of Paul Walker's character, who is also an undercover agent assigned to bring down a drug trafficker who has eluded authorities. The film, slated to begin production in Miami this fall, also stars Tyrese, Eva Mendes and Cole Hauser.
You win some, you lose some. While Ludacris was inking his deal to star in The Fast and the Furious 2, Pepsi-Cola was busy pulling off the air its 30-second TV spot featuring the rapper because of consumer complaints about his sexually explicit lyrics. Reuters reports the move comes after columnist Bill O'Reilly called for viewers of his Fox News Channel show The O'Reilly Factor to boycott the beverage company for using Ludacris to promote its products.
Following the runaway success of Fox's American Idol, it was bound to happen: CBS has ordered nine episodes of an updated take of its syndicated 1980s-1990s talent show Star Search, Variety reports. The original series, hosted by Ed McMahon, put the limelight on future stars Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Ray Romano, Rosie O'Donnell, Jenny Jones, Martin Lawrence, Dennis Miller and Usher. Auditions will be held in 10 cities over the next three months for possible contestants. The show is being targeted for a midseason 2003 bow.
It's been two years since the end of an era for "Seinfeld," and Julia Louis-Dreyfus" is thinking about returning to the tube.
And thinking is the operative term here.
According to Daily Variety, the erstwhile tube actress has been meeting with top programming execs at some of the major networks of late. And while she is said to not be "dying" to get back to the sitcom circuit anytime soon, the trade paper did say that Louis-Dreyfus is at least looking at scripts and meeting with writers.
JOINING THE BEAT: Variety also says that David Straithairn will join the CBS cop/mob drama "Big Apple," with actors Michael Madsen, Donnie Wahlberg, Kim Dickens, Jeffrey Pierce and Ed O'Neill already on board.
PARTY OF THREE: "Party of Five" co-star Scott Bairstow, "Thirtysomething" actress Patricia Wettig and James Handy will join the cast of "Breaking News," Variety says. Set at a 24-hour news channel, the series will debut on cable's TNT in June.