All right Voicelings, it’s time! The... Quarterfinals? We’re only at the quarterfinals? Oh, good God, Lemon. So, that puts us halfway through Act III of The Voice, I suppose; Act I being The Judgment, Act II being The War, and Act III being The Live Sacrifice. Monday night saw Teams Blake and Christina singing their little tribute hearts out and, courtesy of the coaches, some INSTANT ELIMINATIONS. Like Nescafe, but slightly less bitter.
But before we can partake in such stimulating acerbity, we have to sit through some more dog-and-pony shenanigans. This time, at least, the dogs and ponies are more relevant to us: The producers have noticed Adam’s post-break-up funk and have agreed to let him and the rest of Maroon 5 perform one of their new songs, which is nice, because his team definitely isn’t going to win this year. (I mean really, like someone’s going to top Jamar? At least, I hope not.) Carsonbot tells us Christina and Blake will also be getting up on stage with their teams to perform. Well, let’s go to, then!
Oh, kidding, apparently they’re saving all that until later in the show. We’re going right into the live performances. This constantly shifting structure is throwing me off, producers. Anyway, in case you forgot who’s left:
Ashley De La Rosa
Remember, too, that the TV Gods have demanded that two of their scions, Blake and Christina, must each immediately sacrifice one team member tonight. Christina ain’t happy with this. Blake ain’t happy Carsonbot failed to comment on his beauty. Adam is feeling bloodthirsty glad they get to make this decision and not America, at least for now. Given the pushing through of some rather lackluster performers last round and the abysmal ratings for Awake, it’s clear America isn’t to be trusted, so I agree.
In RaeLynn’s pre-taped interview with Blake, he calls her a true Texan, and both lose points for not saying “Texas Forever.” Also, she doesn’t have a boyfriend. “I don’t need a boyfriend right now,” she says. “Or ever,” Blake Dads. She’s going with “She’s Country” by Jason Aldean. It’s her usual fun, ass-kicking performance, bales of hay and country-stomping all over the place, but the breathiness is even more apparent than in the past.
Christina’s a fan — RaeLynn makes her want to sing country. Cee Lo thinks it was her best performance, like if AC/DC did a country song. “Finally, Blake did something right,” says Adam. Blake’s the most proud of her he’s been of anyone all season; she’s proved “country can kick ass.” I think we’ve always known that, there’s just a bunch out there that’s really bad, Blake. (As with every genre in every artistic medium, not just music.)
NEXT: Has his face always been like that?
Jesse Campbell’s next. In his one-on-one with Christina, he looks like he’s going to cry. Has his face always been like that? He’s doing Beyonce’s “Halo,” which he says is a challenge for him. Good. ...Oh, I’m going to feel awful writing this, because he’s singing about his daughter, and there’s pictures of the two of them hanging all over the stage, but... This is boring. I’m sorry. Even when he’s tricking out the chorus like a Who at Christmas, I’m just bored.
Coaches? Cee Lo thinks it was just wonderful. Adam wasn’t feeling the song choice until “it” kicked in, and thinks Jesse’s definitely a contender. Blake concurs. Christina thinks he brought it on an emotional level, and liked the staging, but doesn’t comment on the vocals, which is some nice foreshadowing.
Jordis Unga is super confident! Oh, Jordis. Careful. She gets “A Little Bit Stronger,” and she thinks this is finally going to be her chance. She’s emoting like a mother, and like with “Wild Horses” nails it vocally while still being more restrained.
Christina thinks she looked lovely and likes when she’s more vulnerable, like tonight. Cee Lo agrees. Adam loves that she’s so connected to whatever she sings. Blake is happy with the side she showed tonight.
Ah, now we’re going into the pre-taped packages. Christina is pontificating to her team on hunger and the importance of giving back in a special Starbucks that gives back and whatnot. They go to Crenshaw High School to hang out with the school’s choir and invite them to come to the show. The kids’ reactions are adorable, and another flake is chipped off my icy black heart.
NEXT: More male strippers!
Christina has liberated her leather Playboy Bunny outfit for “Fighter.” In fact, the theme of this performance is apparently leather. She also brought some male strippers seemingly just to molest Blake and makes it rain on him, and my neighbors start pounding on the wall because I guess I’m making really loud, undignified sounds. Ashley in particular acquits herself well, the others slightly less so. However, it’s all so much fun that barely matters.
Speaking of Ashley, she’s next. Christina was proud when she didn’t cower in response to being in the bottom three. She’ll be doing Jewel’s “Foolish Games,” adding more than a touch of rock. Not being a giant Jewel fan, I don’t feel bad saying I’m quite enjoying this version. It feels range-y and original without straying into showoff territory.
Cee Lo “enjoyed it.” Adam finds Cee Lo’s use of understatement humorous — Ashley’s been the biggest surprise for him, and he really sees now what a great choice she was. Blake thinks Christina’s save was the smartest decision made this season. Christina loved the range, and loves that Ashley’s growing so much.
Before getting to Erin Willett, Maroon 5 (and Wiz Khalifa) perform “Payphone,” a very pop-y breakup song, during which Levine silently raps alongside Khalifa, which I find kind of adorable. He’s winning me over, y’all.
NEXT: Set fire to Adele songs on The Voice.
(Just FYI, the best part of this next package is a picture of Young Blake apparently wearing Wild Bill Hickok’s hair.) Erin Willett’s pleased with the decisions she’s made over the course of the competition. Blake sympathizes that lost his dad just a few weeks after Erin lost hers, and they both get emotional before revealing... Oh, for... Another Adele song? “Set Fire to the Rain,” this time. I’ve made my feelings about this abundantly clear, so I won’t beat a dead horse, but... Augh. And look, she’s very good. But it still feels like karaoke with way better production values than that hole in the wall in Koreatown. For example, actual flames.
Christina thinks Erin sang her heart out and made it special, though she too is always leery of Adele. Cee Lo thinks Adele would be proud. Adam “get[s] very Jewish, with the fire” (his own words) and was kind of scared for her. The one thing he would say was the phrasing could have used a little more focus, as he struggles with his own phrasing. Blake says not to listen to Adam — she was fantastic.
Lindsey’s been dominating the iTunes aspect of the competition. She was going to do a medley of “S&M” and “We Found Love,” but switches to Katy Perry’s “Part of Me” instead because she connects with it more. There are still gimp suits onstage (giving me unfortunate American Horror Story flashbacks), so I guess the previous staging stuck. She’s not really blowing it out of the water; her voice is just a little too soft around the edges.
Cee Lo’s noticed the staging has become increasingly elaborate and thought she did a great job, though he hasn’t heard the original. Adam offers that a few of the bigger notes got away from her. Blake says the good thing about her is that he’s already a fan — he downloads her music. Christina adores her and thinks she’s a grower, like Ashley.
NEXT: Heartaches tonight.
Blake and his team do “Heartache Tonight” for us. They’re sitting on gear. It’s fun, but... “Fighter” it ain’t. No one does spectacle quite like Christina.
Blake fangirls out about Jermaine Paul being in touch with Alicia Keys. He’s doing Phil Collins’ "Against All Odds." It’s nice to see him slightly less theatrical. The crowd is at about a Bieber and a half.
Jermaine is Christina’s favorite, mostly because he’s so connected to what he sings. Cee Lo’s a big Phil Collins fan (“He’s got an awful lot of soul for a white guy,” which Adam takes mock issue with) and thinks Jermaine did it real justice. Adam loved it, but wishes he’d tone the embellishments down a tiny bit. Blake says this is Jermaine’s turning point tonight. I mean, it’s not like he was in the bottom three before or anything. I’m pretty sure America already gets that this guy is really good.
Chris Mann has very real fears about the others beating him based on their more contemporary styles. So he’s going with “Viva La Vida.” I like the original (hush), but oof, I am not a huge fan of this rendition. There’s something inauthentic about the performance — it’s like a Dunkin’ Donuts Artisan Bagel.
Adam comments first on Chris’ wardrobe, which is never a good sign. He wanted to be really moved by Chris singing opera, and wasn’t. Christina loves his growth and range. I’m not sure if he’s really shown much range — everything he sings sounds opera-y. But I can barely be trusted to create a playlist for a party, so take that as you will.
We have a mere six minutes to axe two people, and the strain is showing on Carsonbot’s cyber-organic mask. Christina’s team is up first. She says an awful lot of nice flowery things and then sticks a fork in Jesse Campbell, who’s very gracious about it.
Blake has no time to hem and haw, and unceremoniously flings Jordis to the wolves. Oh Blake, you cruel, cold scion. She’s crying, and so sad, and can barely speak, but manages to choke out that she understands.
Tuesday, Carsonbot tells us, there’s a surprise in addition to premiering Justin Bieber’s video, and I could not possibly care less. Oh, they’re going to get Bieber to perform, aren’t they? In that case, get your earplugs ready, folks. Conditions are right for a Category Five Biebercane, and that ish is uglier than hitting your mother... As my mother used to say.
What did you think of the episode and the harsh cuts? Should Jesse and Jordis have gone home?
The Voice Recap: They Can't Make You Love Them
The Voice Recap: Things Are Gonna Go Jamar's Way
The Voice Recap: Jay Leno and the Radio Are The Keys to a Burgeoning Music Career
Halle Berry stars as Dr. Miranda Grey a well liked and respected psychotherapist happily married to the beloved head of the psychiatric ward at an old damp women's penitentiary (Charles S. Dutton). One stormy night taking a detour on her drive home she's involved in a terrifying encounter with a young girl that causes her car to go off the road and the impact of the crash knocks Miranda out cold. She wakes up on the wrong side of a Plexiglas cell door in the very prison where she and her husband work (apparently this the only prison in the state) to find her husband's been killed and she is the prime suspect in his gruesome murder. With no memory of the past few days she is confined alongside her former patients like the Satan-paranoid Chloe (Penelope Cruz) and scrutinized by her once-flirtatious coworker Dr. Graham (Robert Downey Jr.). Miranda insists she didn't kill her husband but quickly starts to doubt her own sanity when a violent force from the not-so-sweet hereafter turns her into a Spirit World conduit. Meanwhile the good doctor wants desperately to prove her sane and innocent even as unseen forces bizarre sightings and bad lines get in the way.
You can practically see Berry's slight shoulders hunching under the weight of this oppressive wet flapdoodle of a psycho-mystic mystery that has The Ring written all over it. Berry gets the baffled/terrified/uncontrollable prisoner thing right says "Shit!" a lot and gets plenty of screen time to flesh out her character (no not THAT kind of flesh; she's drenched in the shower and submerged in the swimming pool but Berry never once pulls a Swordfish). Still cute after years of hard living Downey Jr. as Miranda's skeptical doctor ably smarms his way in and out of scenes in which he says little but raises much doubt about his true motivations--just one of several intriguing concepts abandoned in the face of a progressively trite storyline and escalating hoo-haw. Where it all just goes wrong--so so wrong--is in Cruz's greasy raving crackbird who shrieks lines like "He opened me like a flower of paaaain!" while trying to convince Miranda the Devil rapes her nightly in her cell.
Auteur Mathieu Kassovitz admirably sets the stage for a spooky thriller in the massive turn-of-the-century St. Vincent-de-Paul Prison an abandoned maximum-security facility near Montreal that serves as his women's prison. The setting is the only part of the film that holds any interest--it almost develops a life of its own which is more than can be said of the characters. Though Kassovitz resorts to Horror 101 (flickering lights suddenly appearing figures things that go bump in the night) these elements inspire dread and trigger a jolt regardless. So if the setting is suitably hair-raising the first few scenes effectively suck you in and the acting is passable what's the problem? Screenwriter Sebastian Gutierrez's script that's what. After an auspicious start the film drowns in nonsense and plot holes the size of which rival Michael Jackson's legal troubles until finally sinking like a stone with a truly pedestrian and ridiculous finale that unravels any interesting question raised in the two hours prior followed by a real howler of a denouement. "I don't believe in ghosts but they believe in me " says Miranda. Sorry we don't believe a bit of Gothika.
Fancy another shag, baby?
The horniest of all secret agents springs into action for the third time in Austin Powers in Goldmember, which should jolt the box office back to life after two less-than-shagadelic weekends.
This spoof of the James Bond classic Goldfinger pits Powers against nemesis Dr. Evil and his new partner-in-crime Goldmember, all played by Mike Myers. A perfectly cast Michael Caine joins the franchise as Powers' father, a master spy who's more Bond than Harry Palmer, the working-class secret agent Caine played in five theatrical and cable TV films in the 1960s and 1990s, including The Ipcress File. Destiny's Child singer Beyoncé Knowles, the newest Powers girl, pays homage to the Pam Grier blaxploitation flicks of the 1970s as the butt-kicking Foxxy Cleopatra.
The cast additions clearly are an attempt to keep things fresh and fun, but the franchise is very quickly losing its mojo. Goldmember never seems more funnier or inspired than its cameo-laden pre-opening credits sequence, and it regurgitates too many of the first two films' most hilarious moments, as one guest star splutters. There are only so many times you can laugh at Powers purring, "Yeah, baby!" incessantly, Dr. Evil coddling clone Mini-Me and Scott Evil desperately trying to win his father's approval. Knowles brings a little spunk to the proceedings, but the film lacks comic sparks during Caine's many long absences. Goldmember is a worthless creation who does nothing except roller boogie and munch on his own dead skin.
Added up, that could harm Goldmember's opportunity of duplicating the success of its predecessor. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me debuted with $57.4 million, blowing away the $53.8 million total earned by Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and recording the third-highest-grossing weekend haul at the time. The Spy Who Shagged Me danced its way to a smashing $206 million total.
Goldmember's cheekiness should charm audiences who have shown little or no interest in recent newcomers K-19: The Widowmaker, Reign of Fire and Eight Legged Freaks. This second sequel should debut with a whopping $50 million--about even with Men in Black II and Scooby-Doo--but will lose its groove at around $170 million when the prevailing sense of déjà vu surrounding Goldmember starts to set in.
Accordingly, Goldmember will fail to gross more than its immediate predecessor, a trend that has afflicted the majority of this summer's sequels. Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones remains the best example as it struggles to reach $300 million. Attack of the Clones has $295.6 million vs. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace's $431 million.
There go the Men in Black, as the sequel to the 1997 sci-fi spoof fell 40 percent in its third weekend, from $24.4 million to $14.5 million. MIBII has $163.4 million through Wednesday, with little chance of surpassing Men in Black's $250.1 million total.
The other Michael Myers--he who enjoys nothing more than slicing and dicing promiscuous teens--isn't scaring as many people as he did in Halloween: H20. Halloween: Resurrection, the eighth in the slasher franchise, dropped 55 percent in its second weekend, from $12.7 million to $5.5 million. Myers' H20 rampage, aided by the return of Jamie Lee Curtis, earned a bloody good $55 million. Resurrection, which reduces Curtis' presence to a pre-opening credits cameo, has $23.2 million through Tuesday.
The latest underachiever: the extremely expensive Stuart Little 2.
The sequel was expected to build upon the success of its 1999 predecessor, but the lovable animated rodent bit off more cheese than he could chew this time around. Stuart Little 2 debuted with $15.1 million vs. Stuart Little's $15 million. This lackluster debut allowed Road to Perdition to top the box office after opening last weekend in the second slot.
Stuart Little managed to climb to $140 million through sheer tenacity. With a mousy $22.1 million through Wednesday, Stuart Little 2 needs all the help it can get to scurry past $70 million. It doesn't help that Disney's Lilo & Stitch is still doing good business, having amassed $130.7 million through Wednesday, or that Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams opens in less than two weeks.
Only The Sum of All Fears looks set to surpass its predecessor, Clear and Present Danger, and would become the biggest earner in the Jack Ryan franchise in the process. The Sum of All Fears has $116.9 million through Sunday, while Clear and Present Danger ended with a $122 million total.
Remakes, conversely, seem like a sure thing. Adam Sandler's Mr. Deeds has $111 million through Wednesday. Insomnia, with Al Pacino and Robin Williams, has $66 million through Sunday.
Hollywood often seeks inspiration from comic books, classic and foreign films, TV shows and Internet-originated series.
But theme park attractions?
The Country Bears brings to life those singing grizzlies from the Disneyland and Disney World attractions. A young bear raised as a human sets out to finds its roots. Along the way, he recruits a band known as The Country Bears to help save a concert hall from being demolished by banker Christopher Walken. The Sixth Sense's Haley Joel Osment lends his voice to the young bear.
What's scarier? That such an attraction could inspire a film? Or that Disney has already commissioned a script for a sequel?
Not that a sequel--at least one headed for theaters--seems a possibility. If kids want to see a fairy tale about a talking animal adopted by a human family, they're more likely to be enticed by the familiarity of Stuart Little 2 than the country-rock shenanigans of The Country Bears. And parents would happily sit through Lilo & Stitch or Like Mike ($43.2 million through Wednesday) again before being dragged to see bear-costumed actors whoop it up Hee-Haw style.
With a likely opening of between $8 million and $10 million, The Country Bears will join The Powerpuff Girls Movie ($10.8 million through Sunday) and Hey Arnold! The Movie ($6.7 million through Sunday) as the summer's least family-friendly attractions.
Not that The Country Bears represents Disney's sole attraction-inspired film. Haunted Mansion will star Eddie Murphy. Johnny Depp, of all actors, will headline the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Pirates of the Caribbean. Let's hope it's not quite as small a world that Disney wants us to believe it is.
Kids currently seem to have little interest in animals, talking or otherwise, real or mythical.
The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course plummeted by 51 percent in its second weekend, from $9.5 million to $4.5 million, and has $20.8 million through Wednesday. Perhaps wild man Steve Irwin should stick to wrestling crocodiles on his cable TV show.
Eight Legged Freaks crawled its way to a disappointing $6.4 million weekend and has $11.2 million through Wednesday. The comic tale of giant mutated spiders overrunning a small Arizona town didn't look funny or scary enough for most folks.
Man's battle against fire-breathing dragons proved somewhat more appealing, but by not much. Reign of Fire eroded by 53 percent in its second weekend, from $15.6 million to $7.3 million, as it waged war against Eight Legged Freaks. With $32.1 million through Wednesday, Reign of Fire won't blaze past Dragonheart's $51.3 million total.
Stuart Little 2's struggles allowed Road to Perdition to gun its way to the top of last weekend's box office. Tom Hanks' gangland epic expanded from 1,797 theaters to 2,159 theaters and eased by 30 percent in its second weekend, from $22 million to $15.4 million. Initial estimates put Stuart Little 2 ahead of Road to Perdition, but when the final numbers came in, the latter reigned supreme. Still, that's the lowest-grossing No. 1 film since Queen of the Damned debuted Feb. 22 with $14.7 million.
Road to Perdition continues to capitalize on a stellar cast that includes Paul Newman and reviews that labeled this Irish Godfather as the first Oscar-worthy offering of the year. It has $52.9 million through Wednesday, with $100 million a certainty.
Hanks might play a Mob enforcer who kills in cold blood, but that's not stopping audiences from sympathizing with his plight to save his oldest son from being murdered. The same cannot be said for K-19, starring Harrison Ford as the stern commander of a crippled Russian nuclear submarine.
Torpedoed by poor reviews, K-19 limped to a $12.7 million opening. That's Ford's worst opening since his dire 1995 remake of Sabrina.
Ford, sporting a distracting Russian accent, couldn't interest teens or adults in a fictional account of a Cold War-era incident told from the Soviet perspective. With $16.7 million through Wednesday, K-19 will find itself sinking somewhere between The Devil's Own's $42.8 million and Random Hearts' $31 million.
While teens crowd MIBII and Mr. Deeds, adults are finding their way to films that offer more than gunfights, car chases and explosions. Road to Perdition is a good example. So is My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which has amassed $30.8 million without cracking the Top 10.
August will see several intelligent art house offerings that could receive such mainstream acceptance, including Full Frontal, The Good Girl and One Hour Photo.
Tadpole got a jump on the similarly themed The Good Girl, which both praise the virtues of older women. In Tadpole, a 16-year-old boy lusts after stepmother Sigourney Weaver but ends up bedding her best friend, Bebe Neuwirth.
Miramax picked up Tadpole for a reported $5 million after director Gary Winick's digitally shot coming-of-age comedy won the Best Dramatic Director's award at this year's Sundance Film Festival. Miramax's been burned before when overpaying for pickups--remember Happy, Texas?--but Tadpole is a genuinely smart and funny tale featuring terrific performances by Weaver, Neuwirth, John Ritter and relative newcomer Aaron Stanford.
Tadpole, which opened last weekend at six theaters and earned a solid $80,682, expands this weekend in certain cities. Whether Miramax overpaid for Tadpole remains open for debate.