After Dark Films
It seems a bit odd to take on a movie review of Courtney Solomon's Getaway, as only in the loosest terms is Getaway actually a movie. We begin without questions — other than a vague and frustrating "What the hell is going on?" — and end without answers, watching Ethan Hawke drive his car into things (and people) for the hour and a half in between. We learn very little along the way, probed to engage in the mystery of the journey. But we don't, because there's no reason to.
There's not a single reason to wonder about any of the things that happen to Hawke's former racecar driver/reformed criminal — forced to carry out a series of felonious commands by a mysterious stranger who is holding his wife hostage — because there doesn't seem to be a single ounce of thought poured into him beyond what he see. We learn, via exposition delivered by him to gun-toting computer whiz Selena Gomez, that he "did some bad things" before meeting the love of his life and deciding to put that all behind him. Then, we stop learning. We stop thinking. We start crashing into police cars and Christmas trees and power plants.
Why is Selena Gomez along for the ride? Well, the beginnings of her involvement are defensible: Hawke is carrying out his slew of vehicular crimes in a stolen car. It's her car. And she's on a rampage to get it back. But unaware of what she's getting herself into, Gomez confronts an idling Hawke with a gun, is yanked into the automobile, and forced to sit shotgun while the rest of the driver's "assignments" are carried out. But her willingness to stick by Hawke after hearing his story is ludicrous. Their immediate bickering falls closer to catty sexual tension than it does to genuine derision and fear (you know, the sort of feelings you'd have for someone who held you up or forced you into accessorizing a buffet of life-threatening crimes).
After Dark Films
The "gradual" reversal of their relationship is treated like something we should root for. But with so little meat packed into either character, the interwoven scenes of Hawke and Gomez warming up to each other and becoming a team in the quest to save the former's wife serve more than anything else as a breather from all the grotesque, impatient, deliberately unappealing scenes of city wreckage.
And as far as consolidating the mystery, the film isn't interested in that either, as evidenced by its final moments. Instead of pressing focus on the answers to whatever questions we may have, the movie's ultimate reveal is so weak, unsubstantial, and entirely disconnected to the story entirely, that it seems almost offensive to whatever semblance of a film might exist here to go out on this note. Offensive to the idea of film and story in general, as a matter of fact. But Getaway isn't concerned with these notions. Not with story, character, logic, or humanity. It just wants to show us a bunch of car crashes and explosions. So you'd think it might have at least made those look a little better.
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A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
Vampire warrior Selene didn't just slay werewolves on the big screen; she executed Underworld's competition and helped the supernatural thriller suck $22 million* from box office patrons this weekend.
Underworld becomes Sony Pictures' eighth No. 1 opener this year. The thriller also replaces Remember the Titans as the fifth best September opening of all time, after Sweet Home Alabama, Rush Hour, Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Double Jeopardy.
The new drama Secondhand Lions came in second with a tame $12.1 million, while the gospel-inspired musical The Fighting Temptations came in third to the tune of $11.7 million.
Last week's box office champ, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, lost half its audience in its second week to place third with a so-so $11.5 million, while Cold Creek Manor rounded out the Top Five with a frosty $8.3 million.
Meanwhile, Woody Allen's latest comedy Anything Else, which opened in just over 1,000 theaters, failed to register in the Top Ten with its paltry $1.7 million. Making its mark, however, was Sofia Coppola's Lost In Translation, which raked in a notable $2.8 million at only 183 theaters, comfortably taking the No. 10 spot.
THE TOP TEN
Sony Picture's R rated supernatural thriller Underworld vanquished the competition at the box office in its debut weekend, taking the No. 1 spot with an ESTIMATED $22 million at 2,915 theaters with a per theater average of $7,547.
In the film, vampire warrior Selene finds herself at odds with the rest of her clan when she encounters a mysterious young man who may hold the secret to the war that has raged between vampires and werewolves for a thousand years.
Directed by Len Wiseman, it stars Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman.
New Line's PG rated family drama Secondhand Lions opened in second position with an ESTIMATED $12.1 million in $3,013 theaters ($4,273 per theater).
In the film, a sullen teen is forced to spend the summer with his grumpy old uncles, but life on their rundown Texas farm gets interesting after the eccentric seniors decide to make a man out of their nervous nephew.
Directed by Tim McCanlies, it stars Haley Joel Osment, Robert Duvall and Michael Caine.
Paramount Picture's PG-13 rated musical The Fighting Temptations premiered in third place with an ESTIMATED $11.7 million in 2,026 theaters ($6,516 per theater).
The film revolves around a slick-talking, city-dwelling ad exec who travels to his small hometown of Monte Carlo, Ga., to claim an inheritance.
Directed by Jonathan Lynn, it stars Cuba Gooding, Jr., Beyonce Knowles, Mike Epps and Steve Harvey.
Sony Pictures' R rated sequel Once Upon a Time in Mexico came in fourth place in its second week with an ESTIMATED $11.5 million (-51%) in 3,289 theaters (+ 7 theaters; $3,497 per theater). Its cume is approximately $41.4 million.
Directed by Robert Rodriguez, it stars Antonio Banderas, Johnny Depp, Salma Hayek and Willem Dafoe.
Buena Vista's R rated thriller Cold Creek Manor premiered in fifth place with an ESTIMATED $8.3 million at 2,035 theaters ($4,081 per theater).
In the film, a family moves into their country dream house to get away from the city but neglects to find out the sordid history of the house's former owner.
Directed by Mike Figgis, it stars Dennis Quaid, Sharon Stone, Stephen Dorff and Juliette Lewis.
*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
Warner Bros.' PG-13 rated drama Matchstick Men dropped four places in its second week to take the No. 6 position with an ESTIMATED $7.8 million (-40%) in 2,711 theaters (unchanged; $2,877 per theater). Its cume is approximately $24.4 million.
Directed by Ridley Scott, it stars Nicolas Cage, Sam Rockwell and Alison Lohman.
Lions Gate's R rated gore fest Cabin Fever slid four notches in its second week to place seventh with an ESTIMATED $3.9 million (-55%) in 2,105 theaters (+18 theaters; $1,853 per theater). Its cume is approximately $14.7 million.
Directed by Eli Roth, it stars Rider Strong, Jordan Ladd, Joey Kern, Cerina Vincent and James Debello.
Paramount Picture's PG-13 rated comedy Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star also slipped four positions in its third week to place eighth with an ESTIMATED $3.8 million (-24%) in 2,083 theaters (unchanged; $1,831 per theater). Its cume is approximately $17.3 million.
Directed by Sam Weisman, it stars David Spade, Jon Lovitz, Alyssa Milano, Doris Roberts, Craig Bierko and Mary McCormack.
Buena Vista Pictures' PG-13 rated hit Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl fell four spots to ninth in its 11th week with an ESTIMATED $3.4 million (-23%) at 1,746 theaters (-283 theaters; $1,998 per theater). Its cume is approximately $292.5 million.
Directed by Gore Verbinski and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, it stars Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley.
Focus Features' R rated dramatic comedy Lost In Translation rounded out the Top Ten in its second week with an ESTIMATED $2.8 million (+203%) in 183 theaters (+160 theaters; $15,337 per theater average). It cume is approximately $4.1 million.
Gaining remarkable word of mouth from favorable reviews, the film follows the unlikely friendship between a bored young wife and an aging movie star, both staying in a hotel in Tokyo.
Directed Sofia Coppola, it stars Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson.
DreamWorks' R-rated comedy Anything Else premiered with a soft ESTIMATED $1.7 million at 1,033 theaters, with a $1,646 per theater average.
The film revolves around an aspiring writer in New York who falls in love at first sight with a free-spirited younger woman.
Directed by Woody Allen, it stars Christina Ricci, Jason Biggs, Allen, Danny DeVito, Jimmy Fallon and Stockard Channing.
The Top 12 films this weekend grossed an ESTIMATED $93.7 million, up a noteworthy 29.19 percent from last weekend, when they grossed $72.7 million. The Top 12 movies were also up 36.99 percent from this time last year when they took in $68.5 million.
Last year's top three included: MGM's riotous PG-13 rated Barbershop came in at No. 1 in its second week with $12.8 million in 1,894 theaters (+ 289 theaters; $6,767 per theater); Fox Searchlight's comedy The Banger Sisters premiered in second place with $10 million in 2,738 theaters ($3,666 per theater average); and the indie sleeper My Big Fat Greek Wedding, came in third in its 23rd week of release with $9.7 million at 1,853 theaters (+89 theaters; $5,261 per theater).