Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
The sullen critical reaction to the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie is unsurprising, but the box office intake for the Michael Bay-produced feature's opening weekend might warrant a double take: early numbers indicate that Turtles took in $65 million, a sum that allowed the flick to trounce expectations by 20 grand, top Guardians of the Galaxy by a similar figure, and — perhaps worst of all — spawn a sequel. Via the Los Angeles Times, Paramount is moving forward with a second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, already scheduled for 2016.
Considering the fact that Turtles was hardly the worst thing we've seen this year (perhaps not even the worst thing to come from Michael Bay, in fact), we don't want to write off the newly developing follow-up just yet. There might be a way to save this '16-bound film, but it'll entail a few major changes to the process that brought us this year's Turtle movie:
1) Clean up the Turtles' lookThe choice to make the Turtle brothers look darker, grittier, and more "real" this time around is a particularly confusing one considering how broad and silly the film goes with its material. The grotesque appearance of the foursome doesn't mesh whatsoever with the tone of the movie, nor is it at all pleasant to look at. A dramatic redesign might not be necessary, but something smoother, cleaner, and altogether sillier would benefit future audiences. Splinter, on the other hand, could use a complete makeover.
2) Replace Jonathan Liebesman as directorLiebesman proved with Turtles that he is still developing his directorial skill set. A filmmaker with an established understanding of how to harmonize action and comedy would serve the second feature well.
3) More time on the shelled foursomeWith so much ground to cover in regards to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' nonsensical plot, too much time was spent away from the Turtles themselves. Although they might not be the work of comic genius, they were more or less endearing in the grand scheme of things. More Turtles, less everything else. Oh, and for that matter...
4) Simply, simplify, simplify!Whoever it was that demanded this movie's premise to be more tiered and complicated than A Most Wanted Man does not understand the appeal of the Ninja Turtles. Keep things light, simple, and straightforward. We don't need several dozen conspiracies, puppet regimes, and plot twists. Oh, and for THAT matter...
5) Enough with that one sci-fi contrivance that seems to be popping up in every big movie this year.If you don't know what I'm talking about (I'm being coy for fear of spoilers) check out Mike Ryan's excellent diatribe against the phenomenon.
6) Oust Will Arnett's characterWill Arnett is an adroit comic actor, but his character in Turtles is about as pointless as a pastel bandit mask on the face of a gigantic reptilian vigilante. If April O'Neil had her own car, Arnett's character's contribution would have been instantly nullified.
7) Encourage an actual performance out of Megan FoxWhile Turtles can get rid of Arnett without missing a beat, it's unlikely that Fox can be dismissed so easily (although there Bay-universe is precedent for such banishment). If we're stuck with her, then let's at least try to get her invested in the story and character this time; all she does in this latest Turtles entry is babble flat exposition and grimace in ambiguous dread.
8) Make Michelangelo less creepyAn innocent crush on April O'Neil would be fine, but Michelangelo's character was full on sexual deviant with his obsessive come-ons and offhand erection jokes.
9) Stop destroying New York CityWe've seen it. We're sick of it. It weighs hard on those of us who actually live here. Enough.
10) Krang!His big screen debut is long overdue.
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The Fourth Annual Critics' Choice Television Awards were held Thursday night, with AMC's Breaking Bad, Netflix's Orange Is the New Black, and FX's Fargo coming away with the big wins. The awards, which are chosen by TV critics, have a knack for recognizing the programs and performances that are often overlooked by the other big television award shows. But do the slightly out-there nominees have a chance for gold when it comes to the Primetime Emmys? We've decided to predict the nominees and winners of this year's Emmys based on the winners of last nights Critics Choice Awards. The two award shows might have more winners in common than you would expect.
BEST DRAMA SERIES
Critics' Choice AwardsThe Americans Breaking BadGame of Thrones The Good Wife Masters of Sex True Detective
Emmy PredictionsBreaking BadGame of ThronesThe Good WifeHouse of CardsMad MenTrue Detective
Last year's Emmy winner, Breaking Bad, is coming off a fantastic final season, so it's hard to reason how Vince Gilligan's masterwork won't win the night's big award yet again. But on the slim chance that Bad doesn't win (and we mean slim), True Detective is the most sensible alternative. We don't expect low profile dramas like Masters of Sex and The Americans to be recognized by the Emmys, and the hype on Downton Abbey has cooled of considerably this year. Another Emmy favorite, Homeland, had its worst season yet last year, freeing the category up for some new blood.
BEST COMEDY SERIES
Critics' Choice AwardsThe Big Bang Theory Broad City Louie Orange Is the New Black Silicon Valley Veep
Emmy PredictionsThe Big Bang TheoryLouieModern FamilyOrange Is the New BlackParks and RecreationVeep
Freshman dramedy Orange Is the New Black will certainly get nominated at the Emmys, but we're doubtful that Netflix's prison series will win the top prize like it did at the Critics' Choice Awards, certainly not in a race that includes Modern Family. The juggernaut of a sitcom has won the category four times in a row, and there's nothing with enough buzz to stop it's warpath. Elsewhere, Critics' Choice nominees like Silicon Valley and Broad City are way off the Emmys radar, and don't stand a chance of getting nominated.
BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Critics' Choice AwardsBryan Cranston, Breaking Bad Hugh Dancy, Hannibal Freddie Highmore, Bates Motel Matthew McConaughey, True Detective Matthew Rhys, The Americans Michael Sheen, Masters of Sex
Emmy PredictionsBryan Cranston, Breaking BadJeff Daniels, The NewsroomJohn Hamm, Mad MenDamien Lewis, HomelandMatthew McConaughey, True DetectiveKevin Spacey, House of Cards
McConaughey came out on top at the Critic's Choice Awards, but despite his massive performance in True Detective, we're doubtful he will best Cranston at the Emmys. We're expecting the rest of the category's Emmy nominees to be rounded out with the usual suspects. While the critics recognized the great performances in Hannibal, The Americans, and Bates Motel, we're doubtful that any of those shows will make it to the Emmys this year, or any year for that matter.
BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Critics' Choice Awards Lizzy Caplan, Masters of Sex Vera Farmiga, Bates Motel Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black Keri Russell, The Americans Robin Wright, House of Cards
Emmy PredictionsClaire Danes, HomelandJulianna Margules, The Good WifeElisabeth Moss, Mad MenTatiana Maslany, Orphan BlackKerry Washington, ScandalRobin Wright, House of Cards
When the dust settles, we're expecting Tatiana Maslany to also win the Emmy in this category. At this point, her hype is insurmountable, and riots might break out if she doesn't leave the Nokia theater with something golden.
BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Critics' Choice AwardsLouis C.K., Louie Chris Messina, The Mindy Project Thomas Middleditch, Silicon Valley Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory Adam Scott, Parks and Recreation Robin Williams, The Crazy Ones
Emmy PredictionsDon Cheadle, House of LiesLouis C.K., LouieMatt LeBlanc, EpisodesJim Parsons, The Big Band TheoryAndy Samberg, Brooklyn Nine-NineRobin Williams, The Crazy Ones
The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons will likely walk home with both awards. In terms of the other nominations, there's no way Chris Messina or Thomas Middleditch have a chance at securing an Emmy nomination. We're also betting that Robin Williams gets nominated, due mostly due organization's usual affection for "veterans" ... or so the Emmys have an excuse to invite the actor to the show and hear his Genie voice.
BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Critics' Choice AwardsIlana Glazer, Broad City Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep Wendi McLendon-Covey, The Goldbergs Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer Emmy Rossum, Shameless
Emmy PredictionsZooey Deschanel, New GirlLena Dunham, GirlsEdie Falco, Nurse JackieJulia Louis-Dreyfus, VeepMelissa McCarthy, Mike & MollyAmy Poehler, Parks and RecreatonLouis-Dreyfus' foul-mouthed vice-prez will likely win the Emmy along with the Critics' Choice Award this year. As for the other nomination slots, Glazer and Schumer have no chance at getting nominated for Emmys. We're expecting the rest of the nomination list to be filled up with Emmys regulars like Melissa McCarthy and Edie Falco.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Critics' Choice AwardsJosh Charles, The Good Wife Walton Goggins, Justified Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad Peter Sarsgaard, The Killing Jon Voight, Ray Donovan Jeffrey Wright, Boardwalk Empire
Emmy PredictionsPeter Dinklage, Game of ThronesWalton Goggins, JustifiedAaron Paul, Breaking BadDean Norris, Breaking BadMandy Patinkin, HomelandJeffery Wright, Boardwalk Empire
Aaron Paul seems like a lock for the Emmys this year. The only person we could see upsetting what is basically destiny at this point is Peter Dinklage, who had a massive year on Game of Thrones. As for the other nominees, we are actually expecting the two award shows to stack up pretty similarly. Mandy Patinkin will definitely get an Emmy nod, while there might be enough space in the mix for long-snubbed Walton Goggins. One can dream, right?
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Critics' Choice AwardsChristine Baranski, The Good Wife Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad Annet Mahendru, The Americans Melissa McBride, The Walking Dead Maggie Siff, Sons of Anarchy Bellamy Young, Scandal
Emmy PredictionsChristine Baranski, The Good WifeEmilia Clarke, Game of ThronesAnna Gunn, Breaking BadChristina Hendricks, Mad MenMichelle Monaghan, True DetectiveMaggie Smith, Downton Abbey
While Anna Gunn didn't secure a Critics' Choice Award for the last season of Breaking Bad, we're betting she goes home with an Emmy this September. As for the other nominees, we don't expect Maggie Siff, Melissa McBride, and Annet Mahendru to get an Emmy nod, even though each actress certainly deserves the recognition.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Critics' Choice AwardsAndre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine Keith David, Enlisted Tony Hale, Veep Albert Tsai, Trophy Wife Christopher Evan Welch, Silicon Valley Jeremy Allen White, Shameless
Emmy PredictionsAndre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-NineJesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern FamilyEric Stonestreet, Modern FamilyTy Burrell, Modern FamilyTony Hale, VeepNick Offerman, Parks and RecreationAt this point, the supporting actor in a comedy category should be renamed the "Which Modern Family actor hasn't won in a while?" and that honor goes to Ferguson. Even though the Critics' Choice Awards don't feature a single nominee from ABC's dominant sitcom, expect at least three nominees from the show on Emmy night. Four if Ed O'Neil sneaks his way onto the bill. Also, kudos to the Critics Choice awards for nominating Albert Tsai for Trophy Wife. Bert will live in our hearts forever.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Critics' Choice AwardsMayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory Laverne Cox, Orange Is the New Black Kaley Cuoco, The Big Bang Theory Allison Janney, Mom Kate Mulgrew, Orange Is the New Black Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie
Emmy PredictionsMayim Bialik, The Big Bang TheoryJulie Bowen, Modern FamilyAllison Janney, MomKate Mulgrew, Orange Is the New BlackSofia Vergara, Modern FamilyMerrit Weaver, Nurse Jackie
It might be crazy talk, but we think this category is Orange Is the New Black's best chance for its first Emmy. The show has such a dynamite supporting cast and heavy following that it may be able to crack the winner's circle in its first year of eligibility. We're thinking Kate Mulgrew has a good chance since Modern Family isn't nearly as dominant in this category as it is in Best Supporting Actor.
Robert Zemeckis is a blockbuster director at heart. Action has never been an issue for the man behind Back to the Future. When he puts aside the high concept adventures for emotional human stories — think Forrest Gump or Cast Away — he still goes big. His latest Flight continues the trend revolving the story of one man's fight with alcoholism around a terrifying plane crash. Zemeckis expertly crafts his roaring centerpiece and while he finds an agile performer in Denzel Washington the hour-and-a-half of Flight after the shocking moment can't sustain the power. The "big" works. The intimate drowns.
Washington stars as Whip Whitaker a reckless airline pilot who balances his days flying jumbo jets with picking up women snorting lines of cocaine and drinking himself to sleep. Although drunk for the flight that will change his life forever that's not the reason the plane goes down — in fact it may be the reason he thinks up his savvy landing solution in the first place. Writer John Gatins follows Whitaker into the aftermath madness: an investigation of what really happened during the flight Whitaker's battle to cap his addictions and budding relationships that if nurtured could save his life.
Zemeckis tops his own plane crash in Cast Away with the heart-pounding tailspin sequence (if you've ever been scared of flying before Flight will push into phobia territory). In the few scenes after the literal destruction Washington is able to convey an equal amount of power in the moments of mental destruction. Whitaker is obviously crushed by the events the bottle silently calling for him in every down moment. Flight strives for that level of introspection throughout eventually pairing Washington with equally distraught junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly). Their relationship is barely fleshed out with the script time and time again resorting to obvious over-the-top depictions of substance abuse (a la Nic Cage's Leaving Las Vegas) and the bickering that follows. Washington's Whitaker hits is lowest point early sitting there until the climax of the film.
Sharing screentime with the intimate tale is the surprisingly comical attempt by the pilot's airline union buddy (Bruce Greenwood) and the company lawyer (Don Cheadle) to get Whitaker into shape. Prepping him for inquisitions looking into evidence from the wreckage and calling upon Whitaker's dealer Harling (John Goodman) to jump start their "hero" when the time is right the two men do everything they can to keep any blame being placed upon Whitaker by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators. The thread doesn't feel relevant to Whitaker's plight and in turn feels like unnecessary baggage that pads the runtime.
Everything in Fight shoots for the skies — and on purpose. The music is constantly swelling the photography glossy and unnatural and rarely do we breach Washington's wild exterior for a sense of what Whitaker's really grappling with. For Zemeckis Flight is still a spectacle film with Washington's ability to emote as the magical special effect. Instead of using it sparingly he once again goes big. Too big.
Do the Bourne movies make any sense? Enough. The first three films — The Bourne Identity Supremacy and Ultimatum — throw in just enough detail into the covert ops babble and high-speed action that by the end Jason Bourne comes out an emotional character with an evident mission. That's where Bourne Legacy drops the ball. A "sidequel" to the original trilogy Legacy follows super soldier Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) as he runs jumps and shoots his way out of the hands of his government captors. The film is identical to its predecessors; political intrigue chase scenes morally ambiguous CIA agents monitoring their man-on-the-run from a computer-filled HQ — a Bourne movie through and through. But Legacy has to dig deeper to find new ground to cover introducing elements of sci-fi into the equation. The result is surprisingly limp and even more incomprehensible.
Damon's Bourne spent three blockbusters uncovering his past erased by the assassin training program Treadstone. Renner's Alex Cross has a similar do-or-die mission: after Bourne's antics send Washington into a tizzy Cross' own training program Outcome is terminated. Unlike Bourne Cross is enhanced by "chems" (essentially steroid drugs) that keep him alive and kicking ass. When Outcome is ended Cross goes rogue to stay alive and find more pills.
Steeped heavily in the plot lines of the established mythology Bourne Legacy jumps back and forth between Cross and the clean up job of the movie's big bad (Edward Norton) and his elite squad of suits. The movie balances a lot of moving parts but the adventure never feels sprawling or all that exciting. Actress Rachel Weisz vibrant in nearly every role she takes on plays a chemist who is key to Cross' chemical woes. The two are forced into partnership Weisz limited to screaming cowering and sneaking past the occasional airport x-ray machine while her partner aggressively fistfights his way through any hurdle in his path. Renner is equally underserved. Cross is tailored to the actor's strengths — a darker more aggressive character than Damon's Bourne but with one out of every five of the character's lines being "CHEMS!" shouted at the top of his lungs Renner never has the time or the material to develop him.
Writer/director Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton Duplicity and the screenwriter of the previous three movies) is a master of dense language but his style choices can't breath life into the 21st century epic speak. In the film's necessary car chase Gilroy mimics the loose camera style of Ultimatum director Paul Greengrass without fully embracing it. The wishy washy approach sucks the life out of large-scale set pieces. The final 30 minutes of Bourne Legacy is a shaky cam naysayer's worst nightmare.
The Bourne Legacy demonstrates potential without ever kicking into high gear. One scene when Gilroy finally slows down and unleashes absolute terror on screen is striking. Unfortunately the moment doesn't involve our hero and its implications never explained. That sums up Legacy; by the film's conclusion it only feels like the first hour has played out. The movie crawls — which would be much more forgivable if the intense banter between its large ensemble carried weight. Instead Legacy packs the thrills of an airport thriller: sporadically entertaining and instantly forgettable.
Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.