Before making any decision, it’s nice to have advice, right? Whether it be from friends, family, or coworkers, input is almost always appreciated. Film works the same way. We, as an audience, want to know what we should see and when we cannot turn to our friends, we often turn to the critics. However, as nice as it is to receive advice, sometimes, you have to say, “To hell with it!” Instead, you do what you want and figure out things out on the other side. This week’s list exemplifies this idea. Many of the films on this list haven’t faired well critically, but that hasn’t stopped us from going to the movies. So, let’s jump into things.
#1: GHOST IN THE SHELL
Synopsis: In the near future, Major is the first of her kind: a human who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals. When terrorism reaches a new level that includes the ability to hack into people’s minds and control them, Major is uniquely qualified to stop it. As she prepares to face a new enemy, Major discovers that her life was stolen instead of saved. Now, she will stop at nothing to recover her past while punishing those who did this to her.
Dominating this week’s MoviePass Member Top 5 is the live-action remake of the anime film, The Ghost in the Shell. Starring Scarlett Johansson, the film earned 24.53% of this weekend’s member check-ins. Domestically, the movie didn’t fair as well, debuting at #3 with a weekend gross of $19 million. Overseas, the film raked in $40.1 million, bringing its total earnings to $59.1 million.
Critically, The Ghost in the Shell has not lived up to its cinematic source material. With a 43% score on Rotten Tomatoes, the film has endured controversy due to “whitewashing,” a classic anime film with primarily white actors. However, this element was not the only source of criticism for the film. David Simms of The Atlantic writes, “There’s not much nuance at work, and Johansson’s extremely flat performance doesn’t help matters, though she’s likely doing as much as she can with the material she’s been given.” On the other hand, Wendy Idle of The Observer UK gives the film 4/5 stars, writing, “The main selling point here is the film’s breathtaking visual impact. References include everything from Blade Runner to Chris Cunningham’s music video for Björk’s All Is Full of Love.” So, if you’re partial to Scarlett Jo an breathtaking visuals (which we are), check out Ghost in the Shell if you haven’t already.
#2: THE BOSS BABY
Synopsis: A new baby’s arrival impacts a family, told from the point of view of a delightfully unreliable narrator — a wildly imaginative 7-year-old named Tim. The most unusual Boss Baby (Alec Baldwin) arrives at Tim’s home in a taxi, wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase. The instant sibling rivalry must soon be put aside when Tim discovers that Boss Baby is actually a spy on a secret mission, and only he can help thwart a dastardly plot that involves an epic battle between puppies and babies.
Claiming the #2 spot on our list is the Dreamworks animated feature, The Boss Baby. In its debut weekend, the film earned 11.28% of member check-ins. Though its popularity among members was not as strong as that of Ghost in the Shell, domestically, The Boss Baby dominated the weekend box office, earning a cool $49 million. Overseas, the film took in approximately $59 million, for a total gross of approximately $108 million.
Despite its fun concept of a talking baby, voiced by Alex Baldwin, the animated feature has receive polarizing reviews. With a Rotten Tomatoes score of 48%, the film has a significantly stronger audience score of 65%. On the more negative end of the spectrum, Tom Huddleston of Time Out writes, “The Boss Baby’ is one of those snarky, post ‘Shrek’ cartoons that desperately wants to appeal to parents as well as kids, but its snappy, pop-culture-referencing script feels workshopped to death.” On the other hand, John Semley of The Globe and Mail writes, “Even when Boss Baby flirts with seriousness, it does so fairly convincingly.” So, if you’re up for a little family adventure, why not give The Boss Baby a try?
#3: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Synopsis: Belle (Emma Watson), a bright, beautiful and independent young woman, is taken prisoner by a beast (Dan Stevens) in its castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the beast’s hideous exterior, allowing her to recognize the kind heart and soul of the true prince that hides on the inside.
Maintaining a strong hold on our MoviePass Member Top 5 is the box office breaking, live-action adaptation of the Disney classic, Beauty and the Beast. With 7.26% of this weekend’s member check-ins, the film has managed to hold a spot on our list for three consecutive weeks. In its third weekend in theaters, the film grossed $47.5 million, grabbing the #2 spot at the domestic box office. To date, the movie has earned a whopping $877 million worldwide! Damn, nostalgia is strong!
Since the film has made our list, in previous weeks, we all have a pretty good idea of its critical reception. With a 71% score on Rotten Tomatoes, the remake hasn’t faired as well critically as its predecessor, but its box office gross more than makes up for it. After all, it’s already grossed more than 2x as much as the original animated feature. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone Magazine writes, “What Beauty and the Beast rises or falls on is the love story, and here, allowed to slow down to let in intimate moments, the movie catches fire.” It’s clear that we’re in the midst of another cultural phenomenon. So, if you haven’t already, get on it!
Synopsis: Astronauts (Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds) aboard the International Space Station are on the cutting edge of one of the most important discoveries in human history: the first evidence of extraterrestrial life on Mars. As members of the crew conduct their research, the rapidly evolving life-form proves far more intelligent and terrifying than anyone could have imagined.
At #4 is the sci-fi space adventure, Life. Claiming 5.86% of member check-ins, the film actually ties with the final entry on our list (which we’ll reveal soon). Domestically, the movie earned $5.63 million in its second weekend in theaters, decreasing its ranking from #8 to #4. To date, the film has grossed approximately $51 million worldwide on a $58 million budget.
Critically, the movie holds a 66% score on Rotten Tomatoes with an audience score of 61%. In a positive review of the film, Brian Lowry of CNN writes, “Swedish director Daniel Espinosa delivers several jump-out-at-you moments and a few surprises.” When has space travel ever steered us in the wrong direction? Even if the story isn’t great the threat of a menacing alien is always entertaining. So, choose Life! It looks to be worth the ride.
#5: THE ZOOPKEEPER’S WIFE
Synopsis: The time is 1939 and the place is Poland, homeland of Antonina Zabinski and her husband, Dr. Jan Zabinski. The Warsaw Zoo flourishes under Jan’s stewardship and Antonina’s care. When their country is invaded by the Nazis, Jan and Antonina are forced to report to the Reich’s newly appointed chief zoologist, Lutz Heck. The Zabinskis covertly begin working with the Resistance and put into action plans to save the lives of hundreds from what has become the Warsaw Ghetto.
Rounding out our MoviePass Member Top 5 is the period piece, The Zookeeper’s Wife. Earning 5.86% of weekend check-ins, the drama, starring Jessica Chastain, had a weaker performance at the domestic box office. In, this, its opening weekend, the feature debuted at #10 with a gross of $3.35 million.
The film has received a lukewarm critical reception with a 59% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Among the more positive reviews is one from Stephen Schaefer at The Boston Herald writes, “As a personal tale of ordinary people taking extraordinary, life-threatening measures to help strangers, ‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’ astounds. On the other hand, Will Ashton of The Playlist writes, “Despite dynamic performances all around, most especially from its lead actress, Jessica Chastain, and its timely relevance, Caro’s tragically less-than-average would-be awards contender is a disappointingly bland and forgettable effort.” Watching Jessica Chastain work her acting magic is never a bad idea. So, we’d encourage to check out the film.
IN THEATERS THIS WEEK
We haven’t hit blockbuster season yet, but April’s a good warm-up. We’ll start with another remake (totally the trend nowadays) with the star-studded, Zach Braff directed, Going in Style. Then, we’ll follow it up with the family feature, Smurfs: The Lost Village. Finally, we’re retreating into indie territory with the Sundance feature, Colossal and the indie horror flick, The Transfiguration.
GOING IN STYLE
Synopsis: Lifelong buddies Willie (Morgan Freeman), Joe (Michael Caine) and Albert (Alan Arkin) decide to buck retirement and step off the straight-and-narrow when their pension funds become a corporate casualty. Desperate to pay the bills and come through for their loved ones, the three men risk it all by embarking on a daring adventure to knock off the very bank that absconded with their money.
SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE
Synopsis: Best friends Smurfette (Demi Lovato), Brainy (Danny Pudi), Clumsy (Jack McBrayer) and Hefty (Joe Manganiello) use a special map that guides them through the Forbidden Forest, an enchanted wonderland that’s filled with magical creatures. Their adventure leads them on a course to discover the biggest secret in Smurf history as they race against time and the evil wizard Gargamel (Rainn Wilson) to find a mysterious village.
Synopsis: Gloria (Anne Hathaway) drinks too hard and parties too much. Her boyfriend has enough of it and throws her out. Gloria returns to her hometown, dreaming of making a new start, but instead revives her childhood friendship with Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), who runs a bar. After drinking a night away with Oscar and his friends, he wakes up to discover a gigantic monster rampaging through Seoul and realizes that somehow the monster is connected to her.
Synopsis: Troubled teen Milo (Eric Ruffin) hides behind his fascination with vampire lore. When he meets the equally alienated Sophie (Chloe Levine), the two form a bond that begins to challenge Milo’s dark obsession, blurring his fantasy into reality.