1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Paramount, 3,845 Theaters, 101 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence): I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the Turtles because it was the American Dream: Comic Book Division. The concept was created by two friends (Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird) who took a joke the came up with and fleshed out, invested their tax refunds, and put out a cheap black and white comic featuring it. The comic lit the fuse of a cultural zeitgeist and earned the pair scads and scads of money. It was amazing.
However, Laird and Eastman sold the rights to the Turtles to Nickelodeon, a spoke in the corporate wheel that is Viacom, years ago so the property has lost its “small town boys make good” charm with me. So I can’t say I was as upset as I would have been with all the proposed changed Michael Bay was making to the concept with this film.
And it seems that the changes Bay was going to make–not having them as teenagers, mutants or turtles but rather as adult alien beings–have been done away with. However, we still have horrendous character design and Megan Fox, so it’s not all good. I would have thought this film would have had a hard time winning the weekend even without Guardians of the Galaxy being the juggernaut it seems to be. Now I see no hope in this film doing that good.
2. Into the Storm (Warner Brothers, 3,434 Theaters,89 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense destruction and peril, and language including some sexual references): You wouldn’t think that tornadoes would be that great a form of entertainment. I’m sure that any one who has ever been caught in one would say that it was the opposite of entertaining to lose everything they owned, perhaps even a loved one, to the funnels.
I mean, we did have Twister, but that film focused more on the people who chased the tornadoes that their victims. This one is purely on the victims. And it is a “found footage” film as well to make it all the more realistic.
I think is what really tips this over the line from some escapism into a form of fetishism, just a step above a snuff film. If you want to see people dying in a tornado, go to the Midwest. Hopefully, after you get your jollies, you’ll join the Red Cross and help real victims of this weather pattern.
3. Step Up: All In (Lionsgate/Summitt, 2,072 Theaters, 112 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for some language and suggestive material): I am puzzled by few things in life, but the fact that they keep making Step Up film is one of the things that puzzle me. Okay, I know why they keep making them. Because they are mad cheap to produce and make a ton of money at the box office. What I don’t understand is what the appeal of these films are? Why do these films work where other formulaic yet better made film fail?
After starting with two films in Baltimore, the franchise has become a travelogue, starting with New York in #3, Miami in #4 and, now, Las Vegas. Is it too early to put money down on Los Angeles for #6? And when to you think they’ll get to Step Up: Provo! ? Maybe it will be #27.
In this films, dancers from the other installments that are not Channing Tatum and have not been able to build a film career gather in Las Vegas to battle in the hopes of getting a job. Being that this is a fantasy, I’d imagine the dance jobs aren’t popping and locking behind Wayne Newton or dancing topless wearing a fathered headdress as a showgirl.
4. The Hundred-Foot Journey (Touchstone/Dreamworks, 2,023 Theaters, 122 Minutes, Rated PG for thematic elements, some violence, language and brief sensuality): This is what The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel hath wrought. We have a new genre where Indians have culture clashes with Europeans played by Academy Award winners in stories adapted from books.
Not that its a bad thing. Quiet, funny movies such as these are the true example of counter programming during the summer blockbuster season, and there is a market for these films.
This film features a snooty gourmand who gets upset when an Indian Food restaurant opens up across the street from her haute cuisine restaurant. However, over time, she discovers the Indian family has the same love of food that she does, and they begin to bond. Eventually, she takes the Indian chef on as a protege.